One of the first things I wanted to do after talking with Marcus Richards and Jonathan Schott was to get my blood pressure checked. Not because talking to them was stressful, but because one of the key findings from their years of researching dementia was that your heart health – even in people as young as 30 – could be a key indicator of "brain frailty" later in life. Richards and Schott are leading the world’s longest running cohort study into human health. It began just after the second world war in 1946 and participants are still being regularly tested. The inside story of that world-leading study was the first in the Insights Uncharted Brain series.

We’ve also taken an in-depth look at the experience of families of sportspeople who died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy – which is having a huge impact on the NFL and on sports like rugby and football – and how they are using that experience to help others.

And in the final long read in the series, Ruth Itzhaki talks about a career dedicated to examining one of the more controversial lines of Alzheimer’s disease research. She’s spent over 30 years looking into whether certain viruses, like the common cold sore virus, could have a role in causing it. Despite years of hostility towards the theory, the evidence backing it up is starting to build and the world’s first anti-viral clinical trial is now underway in the US.

You can hear the leader of that clinical trial, the authors of all three articles,and some of the people taking part in their studies, tell their stories in our accompanying podcast series Uncharted Brain: Decoding Dementia. All three episodes are now live via The Anthill podcast, available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you usually listen.

Plus, after reports emerged last night that a missile had struck Poland near the border with Ukraine, killing two people, we examine what this could mean for Nato.

Paul Keaveny

Investigations Editor, Insights

London schoolchildren in 1950. Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

We’ve been studying the same people for 76 years – this is what we’ve found out about Alzheimer’s disease

Marcus Richards, UCL; Jonathan M Schott, UCL

Just months after the end of the second world war, the longest running study of health over the human life course in the world began – and it’s still going.

San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr (centre) in action against Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (left) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (right) an NFL game in California in 2022. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Sport-induced traumatic brain injury: families reveal the ‘hell’ of living with the condition

Matthew Smith, University of Winchester; Adam John White, Oxford Brookes University; Keith Parry, Bournemouth University

Researchers spoke to families of athletes who had suffered from traumatic brain injuries during their sporting careers.

Shutterstock/Jorm S

My work investigating the links between viruses and Alzheimer’s disease was dismissed for years – but now the evidence is building

Ruth Itzhaki, University of Oxford

Ruth Itzhaki has spent more than 30 years researching whether certain common viruses play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. But for years her research was greeted with hostility.


Missile hits Poland, killing two: what this could mean for the rest of Europe

Matthew Sussex, Australian National University

This explosion in Przewodow is unlikely to trigger a wider war. But it will have repercussions for Vladimir Putin and his flailing invasion of Ukraine.


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