• Question: Do you think that your research will help towards curing diseases that affect the nerves and brain. For example Amyotrophic lateral scolerosis?

    Asked by johncozier to Rachel, Patrick, Marianne, Anabel on 7 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 7 Jun 2019:

      Whilst I don’t work on ALS directly I believe that the methods I use to study Rett Syndrome could definitely be applied to neurodegenerative disease. For example I’ll be growing my stem cell derived Rett astrocytes with healthy neurons to see how the astrocytes affect them. But this method could be used to study a lot of other brain diseases too. We could grow ALS astrocytes with neurons, or Alzheimer’s astrocytes with neurons, using the same method. I definitely think this sort of research will one day help cure these brain diseases as cells can tell us so much about disease. If the diseased astrocytes negatively impact the neurons we can try and find out how. If we find out how we could maybe stop it, providing a potential treatment option for the future. The more we know the better chance we have of curing them. 🙂

    • Photo: Rachel Hardy

      Rachel Hardy answered on 13 Jun 2019:

      Although I don’t work directly on diseases of the brain, I think that my research may help us to further our understanding of these diseases. Mitochondria make the majority of energy that a brain cell needs to survive. Damage to these structures stop brain cells from working as effectively, and can lead to the death of these cells. Mitochondrial damage is thought to play a role in diseases that affect the brain – including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With my research, I look at how different drugs can damage mitochondria, and the effect that this has on nerve cells. The results from this work may lead to a greater understanding of how mitochondrial damage causes nerve/brain cells to die in patients with neurological diseases.