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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Label-free spectroscopy for diagnosing and monitoring AD

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Can spectral signatures be obtained for distinctive disease associated protein aggregates? Can they be used for diagnosing disease at early stages?

The hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease are insoluble aggregates of the microtubule-associated protein, tau. These include tau oligomers, tau filaments and tangles. Though emerging therapeutic strategies aim to disperse tau aggregates, their role in the neurodegenerative process is unclear. However the consensus view is that tau filaments and tangles are inert and toxicity is mediated by tau oligomers. In stark contrast to this view, we have recently demonstrated formation of tau oligomers coincident with rescue of tau phenotypes and formation of tau filaments at stages coincident with dysfunction in a Drosophila model of tauopathy. Techniques which allow visualisation of oligomers and subsequent filaments in vivo without labelling are very much required. To better understand which of these two tau species causes dysfunction and toxicity, we will use novel label-free high-resolution microscopy techniques to study their formation in vivo. Raman spectroscopy and Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) will be used as they allow molecular finger-printing and structural imaging of such species without labelling . The in vivo formation of these species will then be correlated to emerging phenotypes during disease progression.

Funding: Rose Trees Trust

Funding duration: October 2014 – Sept 2017 progression.

Research Groups

Southampton Neurosciences Group
Institute for Life Sciences

 

Related research groups

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
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