On Sunday 26 July, a team of researchers from Cambridge University came to the Langdon Down Centre to talk about their research – Defeat Dementia in Down’s Syndrome.
They have a number of really exciting studies taking place that they wanted to share. Sally, Maddie, Liam, Francesco, Alexandra and Tony were available to talk to our visitors about the different studies, and they had posters and demonstrations of their work.
The brain activity study
Sally uses electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate how the brain activity of adults with Down’s syndrome changes with age; she is interested in how brain activity changes when people with Down’s syndrome hear sounds, are watching a silent movie, and are relaxing.
A study about changes in the eyes
Maddie uses a special eye scanner called an optical coherence tomography scanner (OCT). It takes very detailed pictures of the eyes to find out whether signs of Alzheimer’s disease can be seen in the eyes and whether they can be seen before the changes that happen in the brain.
On Sunday, some people with Down’s syndrome went into a quiet room at the back of the stage to have their eyes scanned – one young man commented ‘It was easy, and the man was very nice; it’s good to help the research.’
Parents and carers offered to have their eyes scanned too as part of the control group.
The brain amyloid study
Liam wants to understand what effect amyloid has on the brain. He thinks it might be part of what makes people forget things when they get older. Liam takes detailed pictures of the brain using two scanners.
The energy in Down’s syndrome study
Alexandra is interested in mitochondria, “little factories” in the body that are responsible for producing energy. Alexandra wants to see if there is a connection between problems with mitochondria and certain characteristics of aging in Down’s syndrome, such as changes in memory or personality.
Stem cell research
Francesco works with special cells called ‘stem cells’ – he takes skin cells that have been donated by people with Down’s syndrome and turns them into stem cells, which are then used to make neurons. This photo shows what neurons look like under a microscope. They have been labelled with jellyfish proteins that glow in the dark to help us see them better.
There was a competition to guess which brain belonged to which one of the researchers – and two people won! Well done Samantha and Karen who guessed correctly who the brain belonged to.
Thanks to Tony and Team and all the families who made the afternoon a success. We hope to organise similar events in the future.
Thank you also to the London Down 2 Earth Group who helped with refreshments, greeted visitors and took part in Maddie’s study. In between helping out, the Group did some fun craft activities including making paper hats depicting different parts of the brain. You can find out more about the studies here
If you are interested in learning more about the studies or think you might like to take part, please contact: