Press Release – Scottish Brain Sciences Opens New Research Hub

18 April, 2024

Collaboration with University of St Andrews and Roche Diagnostics opens way to the first blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages, to be carried out in Scotland. 

Researchers working in the new Scottish Brain Sciences (SBS) laboratory at the University of St Andrews Eden Campus innovation hub are bringing the first equipment of its kind on stream to analyse blood samples, as part of a programme of work with Roche Diagnostics.

SBS believes the new technology could offer a game changing approach to diagnostic testing for the proteins that indicate the build-up of amyloid in the brain, an early step in the development of Alzheimer’s.

In the last year, the first medicines have become available that can clear amyloid and slow the cognitive decline associated with it.

Small scale studies have shown the new tests can match the accuracy of existing diagnostic tools – brain scans and lumbar punctures – which are costly, invasive, and can only be carried out in specialist centres where the equipment is often in huge demand. The study will investigate how the tests might be used in the frontline NHS to aid early diagnosis.

SBS Head of Laboratory Sciences Dr Alison Green, who has more than 25 years of experience developing dementia biomarkers, says early testing is crucial as amyloid deposits can appear before any clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

“Most people do not see a doctor until they experience memory problems, which means disease processes such as the build-up of amyloid are likely to have started years before.”

SBS founder and CEO, Professor Craig Ritchie, who is also Professor of Brain Health and Neurodegenerative Medicine at the University of St Andrews says the blood test trial is a hugely significant development in the treatment of Alzheimer’s in Scotland:

“Memory and thinking tests are a key part of any diagnosis, but our current healthcare system is not set up to find the people who are at the very early stages of the disease.”

The new SBS research facility will take forward a test developed by the multinational healthcare company Roche, using a new biomarker that capitalises on recent advances in molecular detection techniques.

Dr Ashton Harper, Head of Medical Affairs for Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland says the test opens a new opportunity for early diagnosis:

“Early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has many potential benefits including timely management of symptoms, the ability to plan for the future, facilitating access to clinical trials and, when they become available, disease-modifying treatments.

“We are excited about the potential of our blood-based biomarker. The work being undertaken by Scottish Brain Sciences, in this new laboratory at St Andrews, is playing a pivotal part in helping to make that a reality.”

The University of St Andrews is supporting the initiative by providing purpose-built laboratory space at its innovation hub, Eden Campus.

St Andrews Quaestor and Factor (Chief Operating Officer) Derek Watson says the partnership with SBS is an important part of the process of developing a nationally important innovation campus:

“This marks the dawn of a ground-breaking relationship as we welcome Scottish Brain Sciences to their new home in the Eden Campus at the University of St Andrews.

“We are proud to be involved with what is a transformative venture into the realm of life sciences, proudly Scottish-led, poised to redefine global research standards and one which offers hope to families in Scotland and across the world.”

Notes to Editors

For more information and to arrange to speak to one of the team, contact:

Anna Borthwick, Head of Impact and Innovation at 07973 423 496 or

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