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Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon funds support neuroscience research

13 September 2017

At the 2016 Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon, members of #TeamCardiff who raised money for neuroscience and mental health research have directly enabled three seedcorn grants to support research within Cardiff’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.

Seedcorn grants support the development of new research projects, of which the following have received funding:

Professor Philip Taylor – Understanding microglial heterogeneity at the level of the single cell in the context of neuropsychiatric disease

“The immune system has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Immune cells in the brain (called ‘Microglia’) are involved in the normal maintenance of the tissue and regulation of inflammatory responses, but their diversity and contribution to disease process is not fully understood.

This project will establish  the single cell transcriptomic analysis of microglia in Cardiff, with the results used as a benchmark for establishing routine technique within the Dementia Research Institute in Cardiff for use in the study of Alzheimer’s disease and related neuroinflammatory conditions.”

Dr Mathew Clement (PhD 2013) – Examining the role of chronic virus infection in exacerbating the development of Alzheimer’s disease

“The main focus of my current research is the study of the inflammatory human pathogen Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). This virus is spread rapidly and establishes lifelong infection in approximately 50-60% of humans. HCMV infection is typically asymptomatic in healthy individuals, however the virus reactivates in the immunocompromised with debilitating consequences.

Further, HCMV is the leading congenital infection, infecting up to 2.5% of live births and causing life-long neurological defects, and has been associated with markers of age-associated progressive decline in the immune system.

Recent data now highlights the potential role of HCMV infection in causing an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) together with an associated increased rate of cognitive decline in humans. However, there remains a lack of clear data regarding the underlying virus-induced mechanisms behind these observations and the central question of whether CMV directly drives AD development.

The main focus of my project is to study the immunological and neurological properties of the CMV-induced immune response in an infected individual and how this exacerbates AD development. The importance of this study will address the significant gap in our current understanding of the role played by viral infection and AD progression.”

Dr Matt Hill – Molecular consequences of microglial CSF1R activation and genetic risk mechanisms for Alzheimer’s disease

“Genetic studies of Alzheimer’s disease have highlighted the immune system as an important pathway for disease risk. Similarly, drugs that alter the function of immune cells in the brain show alleviation of symptoms in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

This project will explore the biological link between genetic risk and mechanisms of drug action, with the results used to benchmark the therapeutic potential of other drug pathways that might be important for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”