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Astrocyte Credit Dr Melissa Cooper

Introducing Philip Hasel, UK DRI at Edinburgh: Unlocking the role of astrocytes in brain health and disease

During his postdoc Dr Philip Hasel (UK DRI at Edinburgh) discovered a distinct type of astrocyte that is only found in a single cell layer on the surface of the brain. In this Q&A, Dr Hasel explains what is so significant about these cells in disease, and why he has made them his research focus as he starts his lab at the UK DRI.

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How temperature and circadian rhythms intersect to regulate a protein shown to protect against neurodegeneration

A new study led by Dr Marco Brancaccio (UK DRI at Imperial) and Dr Marieke Hoekstra (former UK DRI at Imperial, now VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research) offers a deeper insight into how a neuroprotective pathway is regulated both by temperature and the body clock.

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World Parkinson’s Day: What do we know about Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition, affecting over 150,000 people in the UK. It is considered to be the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, with the number of people affected expected to double by 2050. In this blog for World Parkinson's Day, we take stock of what we know about the condition, and what UK DRI scientists are doing to help advance research in this area.

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Major project launched to deliver blood tests for dementia

A world-class research team at UCL led by UK DRI Co-Investigator Prof Jonathan Schott, and Dr Ashvini Keshavan, will carry out a countrywide trial to identify accurate and quick blood tests that can diagnose dementia. The team will work closely with the UK DRI Biomarker Factory, led by Prof Henrik Zetterberg and Dr Amanda Heslegrave, to validate the tests.

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Professor David Attwell appointed to spearhead the BHF-UK DRI Centre for Vascular Dementia Research

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Prof David Attwell as the Centre Director for the groundbreaking new BHF-UK DRI Centre for Vascular Dementia Research. With a distinguished career spanning decades and a wealth of expertise in neuroscience and physiology, Prof Attwell brings unparalleled leadership and vision to this pivotal role.

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Understanding the role of microglia in Alzheimer’s using a novel humanised model of disease

Microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells, are implicated in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the exact mechanisms behind this are not yet understood. A team led by Prof Bart De Strooper (UK DRI at UCL and VIB-KU Leuven) and Prof Renzo Mancuso (VIB-UAntwerp) has transplanted human microglia into mouse brains to better observe how the microglia respond to the disease environment.

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World Down Syndrome Day: Down syndrome and dementia-associated seizures

There are approximately 6 million people worldwide who have Down syndrome. About two in three people with Down syndrome will have been diagnosed with dementia by the time they are 65. Dr Frances Wiseman (UK DRI at UCL) aims to understand dementia in people with Down syndrome, including why individuals who have Down syndrome and develop dementia also experience seizures.

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UK DRI Grand Challenge: uncovering the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease

A major new UK DRI Grand Challenge project, led by Prof Karen Duff, Centre Director of the UK DRI at UCL, seeks to understand the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, by simultaneously examining molecular and cellular changes in mice and studying the very first behavioural changes in humans at risk of the disease. Through greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer's, the project could lead to the development of new biomarkers to aid in early disease detection, and therapeutics to treat the condition.

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UK DRI at Cambridge researcher awarded 2024 Novo Nordisk Prize for development of revolutionary DNA sequencing techniques

Prof Sir David Klenerman (UK DRI and Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge) and Prof Sir Shankar Balasubramanian (University of Cambridge) are being honoured with the 2024 Novo Nordisk Prize for their pioneering work, which enables the human genome to be sequenced in just an hour.

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UK DRI at King's scientists develop novel pipeline to create custom cell culture devices

The SOL3D pipeline is cheaper, versatile, highly reproducible and “democratises” the microfabrication of cell culture devices by allowing potentially any wet lab, regardless of equipment, expertise or field, to produce their own customised systems.

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Reducing brain vascular inflammation could slow Alzheimer’s progression

A new study led by Prof Paul Matthews (UK DRI at Imperial) reveals insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying vascular changes associated with early Alzheimer’s disease. The work, published in Nature Communications, could lead to new therapeutic targets for the disease.

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Introducing Cynthia Sandor, UK DRI at Imperial: Pioneering earlier detection of Parkinson’s

The symptoms of Parkinson's usually only start to appear when the disease has already caused substantial damage to neurons in the brain. There is a need for innovative new methods to detect the disease at a far earlier stage, before symptoms start and cells have already died.

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Protective response to early changes in ALS and FTD

A new study led by Prof Adrian Isaacs (UK DRI at UCL) provides fresh insight into the early changes that occur in the brains of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and reveals a response in cells that protects against neurodegeneration. The research, published in Nature Neuroscience, could identify new therapeutic avenues to treat the diseases.

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Covid-19 may have small but lasting effects on cognition and memory

Research led by Prof Paul Elliott (UK DRI at Imperial) has revealed small deficits in the performance of cognitive and memory tasks in people who had recovered from Covid-19 compared with those who had not had the virus. The study is published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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UK DRI supports MRC National Mouse Genetics Network initiative

The UK DRI is supporting the Medical Research Council (MRC) National Mouse Genetics Network, through involvement in its new Ageing Cluster, and association with the UK DRI Animal Models Programme.

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Jo Jackson Connectome 2023

From academia to industry and back again: in conversation with Dr Jo Jackson

Recently awarded two prestigious fellowships by the Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Jo Jackson (Emerging Leader, UK DRI at Imperial) aims to investigate the changes taking place at synapses – the connections between neurons – during Alzheimer’s disease to gain fresh insight into the mechanisms involved, and scope for potential therapeutic opportunities. We caught up with Dr Jackson to hear about her career journey, her work on the UK DRI Multi-‘Omics Atlas Project, and her plans during the fellowships.

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Gabi Nature Paper Feb 24

Key genes linked to DNA damage and human disease uncovered

A study led by Prof Gabriel Balmus (UK DRI at Cambridge) and Dr David Adams (Wellcome Sanger Institute) has uncovered hundreds of key genes linked to DNA damage, through systematic screening of nearly 1,000 genetically modified mouse lines. The work, published in Nature, provides insights into neurodegenerative diseases, as well as a potential therapeutic avenue in the form of a protein inhibitor.

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UK DRI Cardiff welcomes Alun Cairns MP

On Friday 9 February, we were delighted to welcome Alun Cairns, MP for Vale of Glamorgan, to the UK DRI at Cardiff. Cairns was hosted by Centre Director Prof Julie Williams and Group Leader Dr Dayne Beccano-Kelly for a tour of our labs and to learn more about our research.

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Harnessing high-tech: UK DRI hosts inaugural early career researcher Informatics Symposium

Advances in computational methodologies for the investigation of high-throughput biological data are coming at a lightning pace, but challenges remain in how to share data, expertise and code. For the first time, early career researchers using informatics approaches from across the UK DRI congregated for two days to hash out solutions to these challenges.

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Comment: BBC Panorama documentary on lecanemab and donanemab trials

Tonight a new Panorama documentary airs, following patients with Alzheimer’s disease who have been taking part in clinical trials for new drugs lecanemab and donanemab. Alzheimer’s Research UK has warned that the NHS is not ready to roll the drugs out.

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