Oxfordshire Freemasons have presented a Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) grant of £100,000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK to help them fund pioneering research into new tools for dementia diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia in the UK, with half a million people living with the disease. However, the early stages of memory loss can often be attributed to a range of different factors, making an accurate and timely diagnosis a huge challenge. This means people don’t receive the correct support and miss out on opportunities to take part in clinical research.

The expert research team, led by Professor Simon Lovestone at the University of Oxford, want to tackle this by developing a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.

The MSF provided the £100,000 donation following a poll of local Freemasons who nominated the Charity to receive a grant from the Silver Jubilee Research Fund. Alzheimer’s Research UK is one of 13 medical research charities to be awarded a grant by the MSF this year at a total cost of £1.125million.

The donation was presented to Professor Simon Lovestone by the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Oxfordshire, James Hilditch, on 15th October at the Nuffield Department of Medicine Research Building, Old Road Campus.

Speaking on behalf of local Freemasons, James Hilditch said: “Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects so many of us, family, friends and colleagues. Over 550 Freemasons from around the Oxfordshire area nominated Alzheimer’s Research UK to receive a grant and we are very proud to be able to demonstrate our support for the fight against dementia.”

The first three years of Professor Simon Lovestone’s project have been incredibly successful, with the discovery of a protein ‘fingerprint’ in blood that could predict whether someone with mild memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer’s. To date, the Freemasons’ charities have provided over £560,000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This incredibly generous gift has the power to improve clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. We know that many of the drug trials that have taken place so far – and failed – have been carried out in people in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. But it is likely that for new drugs to be effective, they’ll have to be given much earlier in the disease course. A simple blood test to help predict whether people with mild memory problems will go on to develop Alzheimer’s has huge potential to ensure people receive the right drugs at the right time.”





Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Masonic Samaritan Fund the charity is donating £1 million in grants to medical research projects

The fund now invites every Freemason to nominate one proposal from an agreed shortlist of five research projects, based in or near their Province. You can make your voice count by voting on the MSF's website at: www.msfund.org.uk/research

The doctors, consultants and care experts that make up the MSF's Trustee Board have identified the shortlist of research projects which are all high quality and worthy of your support. With only £1m of funding available through the Silver Jubilee Research Fund, there is an obvious need to make some difficult decisions – and we need your help!

Whilst most of the MSF's trustees are Freemasons, this is the first time in their 25-year history that the fund has invited the wider membership to support a specific research project or cause in their communities.

On the fund's website a summary of each research project has been provided with sufficient detail to enable you to make an informed decision. You will have the choice between five research projects based in, or near, the Province. You can cast your nomination by simply clicking the 'vote now' button.

Only Freemasons, or their widows, are invited to nominate a project so you must provide details of your full name and email address, Province and lodge name and number in order for your vote to be verified and registered.

What research study do you wish the MSF to support in our region? Make your voice count at: www.msfund.org.uk/reseach

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

With half a million people in the UK living with Alzheimer’s, the Masonic Samaritan Fund and The Freemasons’ Grand Charity have been united in their desire to support groundbreaking research that will help identify new targets for treating the disease, with a staggering donation of £175,000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The expert research team, led by Prof Clemens Kaminski at the University of Cambridge, want to understand the chain of events that occur right at the beginning of the onset of the disease. The scientists hope the knowledge gained from this vital research will offer new clues for treatment.

Freemasons from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cambridgeshire presented the generous donation at a cheque presentation in Professor Kaminski’s laboratory.

Ian Wilson, Director of Fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK who accepted the £175,000 donation said: “We are delighted that The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have chosen to support Alzheimer’s Research UK’s fight to defeat dementia.

“Research holds the answers to find ways to prevent, diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but it is massively underfunded. This huge contribution will fund two years of pioneering research at the University of Cambridge. As an independent charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK is completely reliant on the generosity of donors and this marvellous donation will take us all closer to a world free of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects memory and thinking, is characterised by the build-up of two toxic proteins – amyloid and tau. These protein clumps cause damage to nerve cells and lead to the symptoms experienced by those living with Alzheimer’s. But it is still not fully understood how these clumps of protein inflict damage on nerve cells. This generous support from the two Masonic charities will help Dr Kaminski and his team quite literally shine a light on the initial stages of Alzheimer’s.

Peter Sutton, Provincial Information Officer for Cambridgeshire Freemasons, said: “We are delighted to support Alzheimer’s Research UK in its mission to undertake pioneering research that brings us closer to a treatment for this cruel disease.

“Alzheimer’s is a disease that touches so many of us, family, friends and colleagues. All Cambridgeshire Freemasons look forward to following the progress of Professor Kaminski and his team as they strive to understand the fundamental basics underlying Alzheimer’s disease. Freemasons throughout the country are proud to be part of the fight against dementia.”

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Since 2006, The Freemasons' Grand Charity has funded Deafness Research UK with £180,000 to carry out research by Dr David Furness at Keele University, to look into the causes of age-related hearing loss.

New of this grant was reported in the Daily Telegraph on 28th December 2011.

Over 9 million people are affected by age-related hearing loss in the UK, with over half of people aged 60 and above affected in some way. The research carried out has found that much age-related hearing loss is caused when fibrocyte cells (cells in the inner ear) start to degenerate. The loss of function in fibrocyte cells means that other parts of the inner ear begin to deteriorate, leading to further hearing loss and possible eventual deafness. The researchers at Keele University are now attempting to grow new replacement fibrocyte cells inside the ear - the first study of its kind in the world. If this project is successful it could lead to the possible prevention of age-related hearing loss, greatly affecting the lives of millions of people across the world.

The project in detail

The initial grant funded a project which aimed to determine the role of cells in regulating the environment of the inner ear to maintain a stable condition. The results of the project were positive: evidence showed that fibrocyte cells appeared to begin degenerating around 2-3 weeks prior to inner ear hair cells. The relatively short time frame between fibrocyte death and inner ear hair cell damage led the researchers to believe that fibrocyte death caused inner ear hair cell damage, resulting in hearing loss. This gave real value to the prospect of exploring cell replacement techniques, to attempt to prevent age-related hearing loss.

A further grant was then made to continue the project, which made huge progress by demonstrating a link between fibrocyte depletion and the death of inner ear hair cells. This led the researchers to believe that if it were possible to replace degenerating fibrocytes using cultured cells, then it may also be possible to regenerate the damage done to hearing, as a result of age-related hearing loss. The latest stage of the project has been to develop a transplantation technique to inject tagged cells into the inner ear, which the researchers can then identify, thus determining whether the transplantation prevents or reduces age-related hearing loss.

Dr Furness stated in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper:

"If we can find a way to replace fibrocytes through stem cell therapy when they start to degenerate, but before other parts of the inner ear get damaged, we could potentially have found a way to prevent age-related hearing loss.

"The second stage of our research is to do just that - grow fibrocytes in culture specifically to treat age related hearing loss. We're still in the preliminary stages of the research, but are growing these cells successfully and the next stage will be to find a way to transplant them effectively into the ear."


Published in The Grand Charity
Friday, 09 September 2011 11:53

Continuing support for diabetes research

Earlier in 2011, it was announced that the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) had been awarded a major grant of £50,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The money is helping to fund research to prevent complications from diabetes, specifically neuropathy or nerve damage. The research project is being led by Professor Rayaz Malik at the University of Manchester.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood glucose levels and enables the body to store energy from food, without it we would die. The current method of control is via daily insulin injections or pump infusions. There is no cure. If blood glucose levels become too low, hypoglycaemia occurs, which can lead to a variety of symptoms ranging from disorientation, loss of consciousness, coma, seizures and occasionally death. 

The Grand Charity previously donated £50,000 to a JDRF project in 2007, which had much success. The project took place at the University of Cambridge and aimed to create an artificial pancreas for children, to be used overnight to monitor blood glucose levels and administer insulin automatically. The team measured how well their artificial pancreas system controlled glucose levels compared with a regular insulin pump. Insulin pumps deliver insulin at preselected rates, whilst the artificial pancreas system can change how much insulin it delivers in response to changing glucose readings detected by a continuous glucose monitor. In 2010, it was announced that this research had been successful, reducing the devastating complications of the disease for millions of people. Further trials are commencing to test the use of the artificial pancreas in a home environment and it is anticipated that the results will contribute to the medical and regulatory acceptance of the device, and for the eventual use for adults as well.

"JDRF exists to support research that will cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes. Reaching these goals is a matter of time and money, and the more money we raise, the more research we can fund, and the faster we will meet our targets. We are extremely grateful to The Freemasons' Grand Charity for its generous support, and for ensuring our research maintains momentum and is propelled even further forward."

Karen Addington, Chief Executive, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Published in The Grand Charity

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