Glia in neurodegeneration: genetics, mechanisms and therapeutic targets

Glia in neurodegeneration: genetics, mechanisms and therapeutic targets
Theme: Ageing and dementia

Sunday 23rd April, 13:00 – 14:40 

Human genetic studies highlight the importance of microglia and astrocyte function to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed that there are a number of glial signaling pathways associated with key microglial functions such as phagocytosis, migration, inflammation, lipid processing and the endolysosomal system that are dysregulated in disease. Many risk-associated genes function within the same pathways and signaling nodes, making them attractive for therapeutic intervention. In this session, we will discuss the effect of specific genetic risk modifiers on cell function, biology and biochemistry, and how these can be dissected using rodent models and human induced pluripotent stem cells, leading to novel insights into the progression of Alzheimer's disease. We will explore the use of iPSC technology, which provides a unique opportunity to study how neurodegenerative disease risk variants interact at a cellular level, using cells from patients with high polygenic risk. Finally, we will discuss how we can exploit our knowledge of genetic risk and cell signaling in glial cells to develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. 

  • Peter St George-Hyslop, University of Cambridge, UK: Microglia mechanisms to counteract amyloid pathology
  • Julia TCW, Boston University School of Medicine, USA: Deciphering functional mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) genetic risk in iPSC models
  • Hazel Hall-Roberts, UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff, UK: Modelling Alzheimer’s disease polygenic risk in iPSC-microglia-like cells (co-chair)
  • Emma Mead, Alzheimer's Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, UK: Glial therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disease (co-chair)

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