Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh voices insightful dementia animation

Gardener, broadcaster and writer Alan Titchmarsh has lent his voice to a new animation showcasing the work of scientists on the hunt for life-changing dementia treatments. The household name recorded the voice-over having seen the impact dementia had on his family.

Researchers from the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute based at the University of Oxford won the opportunity to have an animation made about their work by Oxford Sparks. Oxford Sparks is the University of Oxford’s digital engagement platform for sciences. Having come up with a helpful gardening analogy to explain their research, the team were delighted when Alan agreed to give voice to the film.

The animation uses the analogy of the brain being like a garden, with cells called microglia as gardeners that clear up waste, which enables thoughts, feelings and memories to flourish. In Alzheimer’s disease, these cells cannot cope with the production of waste, becoming overwhelmed and causing collateral damage within the brain. Researchers based at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute are studying microglia, designing experimental drugs that can refocus and boost these cells’ activity, and deliver benefits for people living with Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia.

With one in three people born this year set to develop dementia in their lifetime, it is vital that scientists find effective treatments that can slow or stop the diseases that cause the condition. Statistics such as this make dementia one of the most feared health conditions today, but research has the power to change the future and transform lives. Alan is joining Alzheimer’s Research UK and the University of Oxford in urging people to share the film with family and friends to help inspire hope in the power of research.

Alan said:

“Having seen the devastating impact dementia had on a family member, I was only too happy to lend my voice to this important animation on behalf of Alzheimer’s Research UK and the charity’s Oxford Drug Discovery Institute. Using a gardening analogy to convey complex research makes it easier to understand, and the animation Oxford Sparks have created is not onlybeautiful, but extremely informative. I am delighted to support the project and the incredibly important work that Alzheimer’s Research UK and their Oxford Drug Discovery Institute is doing to tackle dementia.”

Dr John Davis, Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, said:

“As scientists, it can be challenging to communicate the intricate details of our work, but this animation makes our work relatable to so many more people. We are incredibly grateful to Alan for lending his voice to this animation and helping to highlight our work to find new dementia treatments. We hope people find the animation informative and want to learn more about the amazing work of the team here at the Drug Discovery Institute, taking hope from the growing pace of research that is accelerating us towards much needed treatments.”

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

“We want to say a huge thank you to Alan for supporting our work by lending his voice to this animation. There remains a lot of stigma surrounding dementia and many people don’t know about the amazing potential for research to transform lives. Our hope is that this engaging animation captures people’s attention and gets them excited about the cutting-edge work taking place at our Oxford Drug Discovery Institute.

“We know that dementia is not a normal or inevitable part of ageing but the result of physical diseases that affect the brain. With sustained and strategic investment in research, scientists will continue to make progress in beating these diseases just as they have done with other health conditions in recent history.”

The animation can be viewed here https://www.oxfordsparks.ox.ac.uk/content/discovering-life-changing-dementia-treatments