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A human functional genomics approach to investigate inflammation in dementia

42 months
Approved budget:
Dr Amy Smith
Professor Michael Dragunow
Health issue:
Neurological (CNS)
Proposal type:
Emerging Researcher First Grant
Lay summary
Dementia is a debilitating disorder for both patients and their carers. Unfortunately the prevalence of this disease is increasing in New Zealand. To address this we need to better understand what happens in the human brain during disease, however much research to date has not been transferable to the clinic. The brain’s immune cells provide protection from injury however they also cause detrimental inflammation if left unchecked. Exciting new data is shining light on specific genes switched on by immune cells to regulate these beneficial/deleterious effects. To understand the practical impact of these genes on disease, we will study live immune cells from human brain and blood samples from the Neurological Foundation Human Brain Bank and Dementia Prevention Research Clinic. This will clarify the molecular pathways that go wrong in disease and should lead to new treatments to reduce unwanted inflammation and lessen the impact of dementia on New Zealanders.