Dr Christy Hung leads recent study published in Cell Reports

Posted on the 17th June 2021

RAD fellow Dr Hung’s work has been featured on the cover of the scientific journal Cell Reports

Race Against Dementia Fellow Dr Christy Hung at University College London is using human-derived stem cells together with cutting-edge gene-editing techniques to explore the genetic risk factors that disrupt the brain’s waste disposal system in Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain’s waste disposal system, known as autophagy, bags up damaged materials or misfolded proteins and breaks them down into smaller pieces that can be removed or recycled. This usually goes on behind the scenes without any glitches. However, when there is too much toxic waste building up, the brain cell’s waste disposal system can become overwhelmed.

Dr Hung led the recent study published in the journal Cell Reports together with Professor Rick Livesey, Professor Henne Holstege, Professor John Hardy and RAD scientific advisor Professor Philip Scheltens. In the study, they have successfully generated human nerve cells without a gene called SORL1 by using a cutting-edge gene silencing technique. They confirmed this by using intricate biochemical methods and discovered that SORL1 deficiency impairs the waste disposal systems of the cells and leads to the accumulation of toxic waste.

These exciting results will help to address the molecular underpinnings of Alzheimer’s disease and could lead to new potential drug targets to prevent, halt or reverse the symptoms of the disease.

Read the full paper in Cell Reports here.

Read more about Christy’s research here.

The cover image of Cell Reports depicts human cortical neurons generated from iPSCs derived from patients with Alzheimer's disease. Dysfunction of the endolysosomal-autophagy network is emerging as an important pathogenic process in Alzheimer's disease. Image by Christy Hung.

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