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 and synapse 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, Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute at Cambridge.