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How brain cells are lost in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is a real puzzle, being tackled by many scientists in lots of different ways. In these talks, Selina will explain how we can better understand dementia, through growing brains cells in the lab, while Rachael will talk about what we can learn about brain cell loss in Parkinson’s, from genetically engineered, microscopic worms. Suitable for all audiences- no science knowledge needed.
Parkinson’s, DNA and…Microscopic Worms?
Rachael Chandler (Doctoral Researcher in Biomedical Science)
Parkinson’s is a common brain disease, which reduces a person’s ability to control their movement. In incredibly rare cases, this can be caused by changes in DNA, called mutations, which lead to the death of certain brain cells. By the time you finish your pint, we will have explored how we can add pieces to the puzzle of brain cell loss in Parkinson’s, by studying mutant, microscopic worms- with whom we share a surprisingly similar biology! From finding out what could be going wrong in brain cells, new ways to treat Parkinson’s could be developed in the future.
Building a brain in a dish: how can stem cells help us understand dementia?
Dr Selina Wray (Alzheimer's Research UK Senior Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Neurology)
My lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), which are caused by the death of neurons in the brain. To understand why these cells die we need a disease model to study. We can take skin cells from patients with genetic FTD and convert them into stem cells, which we can develop into neurons. This means we have patient-specific models that we can use to understand FTD and ultimately develop new treatments. I will describe some of our work using stem cell models and how it has enhanced our understanding of dementia.