Understanding more about the brain’s waste disposal system in Alzheimer’s disease
Dr Maria Jimenez-Sanchez
King’s College London
1 October 2021 - 30 September 2022
Full project name:
Investigating the crosstalk between autophagy and inflammation in astrocytes in Alzheimer’s disease
Researchers from King’s College London are investigating whether faults in the waste disposal system of specialised brain cells contribute to Alzheimer’s disease
Autophagy, from the Greek term “self-eating”, allows cells to get rid of components that are damaged or not needed. This is particularly important in the brain, where nerve cells persist throughout life. When these waste components are not removed, they accumulate and cause damage. This is what happens in Alzheimer’s disease, where amyloid and tau proteins accumulate because they cannot be disposed of properly.
Researchers from King’s College London are studying a specialised type of cells, called astrocytes, that are crucial in maintaining the health and normal function of nerve cells. In Alzheimer’s disease, astrocytes can become dysfunctional and damage the nerve cells. The project will look at whether this harmful effect of astrocytes is due to autophagy not working properly in these specialised cells.
The team will also investigate if boosting autophagy can prevent astrocytes from becoming harmful in disease, by clearing the toxic protein clumps and restoring autophagy function.
This project aims to expand our limited knowledge about autophagy in astrocytes, which will increase our understanding of the key disease process and hopefully reveal new approaches for future treatments.
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