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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Validation of Connexins and Pannexins as a target for Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Project Leaders: Christian Naus
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1500000
  • Program/Competition: Partner Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2014
  • Status: Closed

While most therapeutic approaches target the neurons to prevent their death in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), this project focused both on neurons and astrocytes (glial cells in the brain and spinal cord). The main goal was to determine the involvement of brain membrane channels in neurodegeneration, and identify new drugs which will not only directly target neurons but also enhance the astrocytes’ abilities to protect neurons that are vulnerable to degeneration in AD. The group demonstrated that channel activity was detected in all astrocytes but was enhanced in reactive astrocytes contacting amyloid (Aβ) plaques. Also, deletion of these specific channel in astrocytes, significantly affected their ability to take up Aβ oligomer, and impacted neuronal activities (manuscript in progress). Furthermore, channel specific blockers have demonstrated efficacy for neuroprotection in mice models by reducing AD pathology and cognitive impairment.