People in the modern world will generally live significantly longer lives than their ancestors, but the incidence of neurodegenerative disorders is rising rapidly, bringing dramatically escalating healthcare demands and terrible distress for sufferers and their families and friends.
But a remarkable cross-disciplinary project has emerged in the University of Cambridge where over 50 young graduate and post-doctoral scientists are working together to investigate diseases that are triggered by the failure of the body's proteins to adopt their correctly folded functional states.
Chris Dobson, an eminent professor in the Department of Chemistry and Master of St John's College described the revolutionary studies being carried out by this group that are rediscovering how and why the phenomenon of protein misfolding gives rise to disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's Disease, CJD, Dementia, Huntington's Disease and even Type 2 diabetes.
In his talk Professor Dobson described the nature of the team's research and suggested why a detailed understanding of this family of debilitating, often fatal diseases is letting the team explore novel ways to combat their onset and progression.
Understanding Alzheimer's disease
We visited Professor Dobson's labs at the University of Cambridge, and he told us how they study Alzheimer's disease, and why it's vital we keep funding research into "ageing diseases".