Research Projects

Can zebrafish show us how amyloid causes sleep disruption?

Awarded to:
Dr Guliz Ozcan

Current award:

University College London

1 July 2023 - 30 June 2026

Full project name:

The molecular and cellular map of amyloid beta induced insomnia






Reduced and fragmented sleep is one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. occurring years before memory and thinking problems.

Researchers don’t fully understand why people with Alzheimer’s experience these changes in their sleep patterns.

Sleep problems can be very stressful and disruptive to people’s lives, and research suggests that a lack of sleep may speed up brain changes involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Finding effective ways to treat and manage sleep disruption would improve quality of life – both for people with Alzheimer’s and those they live with and potentially slow memory decline.

Amyloid is a protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. This protein can range in size from small individual fragments to large clumps known as plaques.

Researchers from University College London have discovered that small forms of amyloid can reduce sleep and activate brain regions that control sleep and wakefulness.

What will they do?

In this project, Dr Ozcan will use small zebrafish to identify the brain cells and wake signals that are affected by small amyloid proteins. Researchers use zebrafish to study sleep as they share many genetic traits relevant to people. Dr Ozcan will measure brain activity in the fish and see how it changes in response to the amyloid proteins.

This project will provide a greater understanding of how insomnia is triggered in people with Alzheimer’s disease. By finding out how amyloid interferes with key brain cells involved in sleep patterns, researchers may be able to develop new drugs to treat sleep disruption in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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