The role of TREM2 in neurodegeneration

UCL researchers plan to uncover the processes underlying an Alzheimer’s risk gene.



In 2012, Alzheimer’s Research UK funding helped scientists make a major genetic breakthrough. They discovered a change in the DNA code of a gene called TREM2. People with this change had a three-fold higher risk of Alzheimer’s. TREM2 appears to play a role in controlling the immune system and inflammation. This is the body’s response to damage. Research is showing inflammation to be a key early feature of Alzheimer’s and this project aims to study how this risky version (or ‘variant’) of TREM2 variant could be affecting this process.

PhD student Christina Murray talks about her research project.

Detail about the role of TREM2 and inflammation in Alzheimer’s is crucial for improving our basic understanding of the disease. The knowledge gained from this project can guide future drug development work. Improving our understanding about inflammation and Alzheimer’s could also highlight areas where we could actively reduce our risk.

Dr Lashley will supervise and train a PhD student, Christina Murray, who will study brain tissue donated from people both with and without Alzheimer’s. Some of those who donated their brains had the variant in the TREM2 gene associated with greater risk of Alzheimer’s. They will look for patterns in the amount of TREM2 in the brain, and in which areas of the brain it is found. Additionally, by using state-of-the-art microscopy, Christina will be able to study the brain’s immune cells in 3D and investigate how TREM2 affects the way they interact with the amyloid protein which builds up in Alzheimer’s.

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Awarded to
Dr Tammaryn Lashley

University College London

Current Award

Full project name
The role of TREM2 in neurodegeneration

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