From gene to function: hunting for new treatment targets across Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.
Professor Julie Williams and colleagues at Cardiff University have discovered over 27 risk genes for dementia which implicate the innate immune response in determining a person’s susceptibility to developing Alzheimer’s disease. Building on their world-class expertise in genetics and immunology, the UK DRI at Cardiff University uses these discoveries as the starting point for understanding disease mechanisms and producing new therapies.
The team uses cellular and animal models to understand the function of risk genes implicated in two major areas of immunity: microglia cells and the complement system. They study the involvement of complement proteins in the loss of synapses and cell death in Alzheimer’s disease and describe how Alzheimer’s risk genes affect the production and activation of microglia in the brain.
An additional programme of work develops novel mathematical approaches to the study of dementia that will be shared with by all members of the UK DRI. This work is developing models for stratifying dementia risk and statistical tools for identifying patterns in large biological ‘omics’ data sets.
UK DRI at Cardiff University is located in the Hadyn Ellis building on the Innovation campus, with access to state of the art facilities within the Cardiff University Dementia Research Network.