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MRC make major investment in PSP research at the University of Cambridge

We are thrilled to announce a major investment by the Medical Research Council in PSP Research. They have committed to over £600,000 for a new UK study that aims at improving the treatment of symptoms of PSP.


Although PSP can be physically very disabling, many people are also affected by cognitive and personality changes. These can have a major impact on the quality of life and safety of the person with PSP, and their carers.

Despite the slow and stiff movements caused by PSP, people can also become paradoxically impulsive and reckless. For example, rushing to try to get up, cramming food while eating, or “jumping to conclusions” without enough thought for the consequences. Impulsivity is risky with PSP as can increase the risk of falls, and choking.

The new study is based in Cambridge, with Prof James Rowe and Dr Luca Passamonti, amongst others, using the most advanced technologies in MRI and pharmacology. They will link impulsivity to the brain’s version of adrenaline (called noradrenaline), in living patients with PSP and in those who have donated to the Cambridge Brain Bank. The new ultra high field “7T” scanner can see detail as fine as a grain of sand, much better than traditional scanners, and in critical parts of the brain that are very unclear on normal MRI scanners.

In the second part of the study, they will invite patients to take part in a study using a drug that boosts noradrenaline in the brain, which they have shown can reduce impulsivity and reduce rigid or inflexible thinking. The Medical Research Council’s decision to support this study confirms researchers’ belief in its potential to improve treatments for common cognitive and behavioural problems in PSP, which will remain important even as new studies begin to try to slow the illness down.

Please note that the Cambridge researchers are not yet recruiting participants for this study.

If you are interested in joining our register of interest in research participation, please contact our helpline

Unfortunately we are unable to register potential research participants living outside the UK as the researchers we are in touch with are UK-based and usually require participants to make regular visits to the research centre over a period of months.

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