The Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Laboratory investigates the cause and potential treatments for brain diseases including dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), motor neuron disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and Parkinson’s disease. These disorders (collectively known as neurodegenerative diseases) are a growing health issue in Australia and worldwide, with few treatment options available. In order to gain a better understanding of these diseases and develop new therapeutic approaches, the research team is currently developing new human brain cell culture methods.
A major focus of this research is the development of a 3D human ‘brain on a chip’ cell culture platform that combines different human brain cell types into a 3D microfluidic culture plate. The advantage is that the 3D system provides a far better model of the actual human brain while still allowing manipulation and experimentation in a culture plate.
The cells used in the 3D brain on a chip include neurons, astrocytes and microglia (resident brain immune cells) and are generated from human induced pluripotent stem cells, natural olfactory stem cells, and blood-derived cells from normal people and those with brain disease. This 3D platform is being used to build new models of the brain for dementia and motor neuron disease research, in particular to understand the role of the immune system in brain diseases, and develop new therapeutic compounds targeting the immune cells of the brain.
Group Leader: Associate Professor Anthony White
- Hazel Quek, Research officer
- Lotta Oikari, Research officer
- Paula Korhonen, Visiting Research Scientist
- Generating Alzheimer’s microglia for testing patient responses to immune-modulating compounds
- Generating patient-derived microglia to investigate neuroinflammation in MND
- Olfactory stem cells for investigating the causes and progression of dementia
- 3D Alzheimer’s disease ‘brain on a chip’
- Investigating the role of Zinc transporters in autophagy and its role in the childhood neurodegenerative disorder, Batten Disease
- Copper as a major epigenetic regulator of Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD) gene expression
- Development of metal-based therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases
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