Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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British Heart Foundation Reflections of Research 2019 Rush of Blood

Understanding the connections between brain blood vessel damage and disease

13 September 2019

Rush of Blood

These delicate traces reveal the complex network of blood vessels winding through a mouse’s brain, many of them thinner than a human hair, bringing a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to hungry nerve cells. Studying these fine threads in mice provides important insights into the blood flow within our own brains, which are much harder to study in such intricate detail. In this case, researchers are trying to understand how conditions such as diabetes damage blood vessels in the brain. Nerve cells will die if they don’t get an adequate supply of blood, leading to vascular dementia – the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting around 150,000 people in the UK. By unpicking the connections between blood flow, diabetes and dementia, researchers hope to find more effective ways to prevent or reverse the damage that leads to vascular dementia as well as ideas for new treatments.

Written by Kat Arney

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