Glial cells, such as astrocytes emerge as central players in the regulation of normal neuronal network function and in its failure in neurodegenerative diseases. Astrocyte responses to neuronal insults can be beneficial or detrimental to neuronal recovery, but the mechanisms that regulate these responses are unclear. A detailed understanding of these mechanisms may provide alternative neuroprotective therapeutic targets for a range of neurodegenerative disorders.
We use cutting-edge mouse and human disease model systems with computational approaches to explore astrocyte-evoked effects on neuronal networks in response to traumatic injury or in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Our specific questions are: What cues can trigger or maintain the neuroprotective or detrimental transformation of astrocytes? What are the targetable signaling and transcriptional elements underlying these processes.
We also run collaborative projects with groups in the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute at Cambridge and the Crick Institute in London on patient derived stem cell based disease modelling.