Investigating how the tau protein affects memory and brain cell function
Dr Francesco Tamagnini
University of Reading
1 December 2021 - 30 November 2024
Full project name:
Mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction associated with pathogenic truncated tau
Researchers at the University of Reading will investigate how the tau protein changes brain function and affects memory
The tau protein is involved in many different diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia, as well as some rarer diseases. In these diseases the tau protein changes from its normal state into forms that lead to damage.
The team led by Dr Francesco Tamagnini will work with mice with features of Alzheimer’s, to look at how tau affects cells in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that helps us form memories, so when these cells cannot communicate and work properly, people experience the characteristic, early symptoms of dementia.
In this first phase of the project, the team will look at how memory is affected in mice with tau compared to healthy mice. As they perform these tests, they will also look at cells in the brain and see how they communicate with each other and other proteins around them. This can be done using techniques that allow scientists to record cell activity in the brain while the mice are doing their memory tasks.
Once this phase of the project is complete, the team hope to investigate how tau interacts with a protein which is involved in how nerve cells communicate with each other, and which has been shown in previous research to play a role in dementia. Understanding this interaction will then allow scientists to test a new drug to block this protein and see if this stops cell damage and memory loss.
The results of this research will pave the way for other scientists to use the same mouse model to study diseases involving the tau protein and to establish new potential targets for future drugs that could be beneficial in Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia.
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