Beeson Award Goes to Ireland

Graduating with an MD in 2006, Dr McGuinness’s research specifically focussed on neuropsychological changes and genetics in early Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Working closely with the Dementia Research Group from Queen’s School of Medicine, Dr McGuinness’s research proposal relates to an enzyme thought to be involved in the Alzheimer’s process. The team studied activity of an enzyme in platelets from peripheral blood samples and found that the activity was elevated in patients with Alzheimer’s.

Dr McGuinness said: “This is very significant since there is no easy diagnostic test for this major neurodegenerative condition and being able to detect relevant markers of this brain disease in peripherally accessed blood samples represents a significant advance.” Furthermore the research process offers the possibility of monitoring development aspects of the disease.

Dr McGuinness continued: “Since the Alzheimer process has usually been developing for some time in the brain and hence is very well advanced before patients go to the doctor, we wondered if the activity of this enzyme could be higher in people before they actually turn up and are diagnosed. In a small preliminary study this seemed to be the case. “

The Beeson Award is a career development award made to high calibre individuals seeking to advance research into ageing and medicine for older people. Candidates must also have the support of a team in an institution recognised as having a commitment to ageing research and teaching. In 2007 the award was opened to people living and working in Ireland for the first time and Dr McGuinness is the first recipient.; Source: Queen's University Belfast