Dr Miners will work with brain tissue donated by people who died with Alzheimer’s disease to investigate the role of cells called pericytes. Pericytes sit within the walls of blood vessels and work to regulate blood flow in the brain. They are essential in maintaining the structure and function of blood vessels.
He will also test potential drug targets with the aim of preventing the loss of pericytes and restoring blood flow, in the hope this could stave off disease. The findings from this research could inform the direction of future clinical trials of Alzheimer’s drugs.
Dr Scott Miners will first examine brain tissue to see the role pericytes play across different diseases that cause dementia. Through this work he will investigate changes to pericytes and how this is related it to a range of other changes to the blood supply to the brain.
Working with mice with features of Alzheimer’s, Dr Miners will assess the timing of pericyte loss in relation to reduced brain blood flow, the build-up of the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid, nerve cell loss and loss of cognitive abilities.
Finding ways to prevent damage to pericytes, could open the door to new approaches for preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease.