Dementia in a dish

Scientists are using stem cells to investigate how blood vessels become diseased...
28 June 2018
Presented by Chris Smith
Production by Chris Smith.


A masked scientist uses a pipette to draw up blue liquid from a petri dish.


In recent years, we’ve woken up to the massive problem that is dementia. This is where people progressively lose their cognitive faculties and Alzheimer’s Disease is one well-known example. But scientists are increasingly realising that injury done to the brain by damaged blood vessels is probably the leading cause of dementia, but it’s also the one that we know much less about. It happens when the very small blood vessels deep within the brain become narrowed, stiffened and leaky, which leads to progressive damage to the adjacent brain tissue, although we don’t understand how this happens, or whether we can block or reverse it. Cambridge scientist Alessandra Granata is working on a way to recreate in a dish what goes on in a patient’s brain by turning a skin biopsy into stem cells and then converting those into new blood vessels that recapitulate the features of the disease. Chris Smith heard how...



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