Research Projects

Finding a way to stop toxic tau protein from building up in Alzheimer’s disease.

Awarded to:
Prof Wendy Noble

Current award:

University of Exeter

2 October 2023 - 1 October 2027

Full project name:

Deciphering cell-type specific effects of P2X7R antagonism on tauopathy ex vivo






In Alzheimer’s disease, proteins in the brain called tau change shape and start to clump together in tangles. This causes damage to nerve cells as tau can no longer carry out its normal supportive role.

One of the ways in which scientists are developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is by finding out how to stop tau tangles from forming.

Recently, researchers have found that abnormal forms of tau can be reduced by blocking a specific receptor protein on cells called P2X7R.

Prof Wendy Noble’s lab group have identified two types of immune cells in the brain that express P2X7R called astrocytes and microglia. Their next question is which one of these can affect the build-up of tau?

In this PhD project, the student will determine which immune cell is involved in the beneficial effect of blocking P2X7R. They will then use imaging techniques to measure changes to levels of tau tangles in brain tissue after P2X7R is blocked.

Currently, there are no treatments available which slow down or prevent these forms of tau from developing in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The results from this PhD project will provide important information for the development of new P2X7R-based therapies.


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