From brain vasculature to microglia: elucidating the interactions within the brain and with the body which control the trajectory of neurodegenerative disorders.
Studies are increasingly highlighting the important role of immune, vascular and metabolic factors in the development of neurodegenerative diseases but the interplay between these components in disease progression is poorly understood. The UK DRI at Edinburgh broadens out the traditional view of neurodegenerative disease as a disorder of misfolded proteins to encompass the multicellular environment surrounding degenerating neurons.
The research team lead by Professor Giles Hardingham examines the complex interactions between cells of the brain, immune system and blood vessels that make up the ‘neurogliovascular unit’. They bring together strengths in metabolism, inflammation, blood vessel biology and stem cell medicine to explore how interactions at the neurogliovascular unit control the trajectory of neurodegenerative diseases leading to dementia.
By describing interactions at the neurogliovascular unit that help to maintain cognitive function for several decades in a healthy, ageing brain, the team aim to identify biological regulators that can inform the development of new therapies.
UK DRI at The University of Edinburgh is located on the BioQuarter, Edinburgh's new multidisciplinary research institute and teaching hospital with access to superb multimodal neuroimaging and clinical research facilities.