Dr. Aitana Sogorb-Esteve: Race Against Dementia Fellow and UK DRI Emerging Leader, University College London

Dr Sogorb-Esteve has been working at UCL for the past three years investigating fluid biomarkers in dementia.

Aitana completed a degree in biology at the University of Alicante, her hometown in Spain; followed by a master and a PhD in neuroscience at the University Miguel Hernandez de Elche (Spain). Her research has been focused on the study of novel fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) going from those related to the AD pathology, such as secretases, to those related to neuroinflammation, markers of microglial activation.

Prior to joining as a RAD fellow, Aitana has been working as a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Jonathan Rohrer group at the Dementia Research Centre at UCL studying fluid biomarkers in Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) as part of the Genetic FTD Initiative (GENFI).
Her project will focus on biomarkers to assess the synaptic dysfunction in FTD and to develop a method to measure these synaptic markers in blood samples.

The Race Against Dementia Fellowship is an amazing opportunity for my career. I am thrilled to be part of the RAD family and very looking forward to start working with the team and collaborating with my RAD fellows. This fellowship offers the best scenario for developing dementia research thanks to Sir Jackie’s input from Formula One expertise. I am very eager to learn from Formula One engineers and mentors to speed up the developments of my project and apply their ideas to my research. I truly believe the combination of expertise this fellowship offers will be the key to create life-changing breakthroughs.

Dr. Aitana Sogorb-Esteve: Race Against Dementia Fellow

Research Summary

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a condition affecting the brain that can result in changes in behaviour, language, or movement. The development of such symptoms is caused by nerve cells in the brain losing their normal function. The connections between nerve cells are called synapses but little is known about how these are affected in FTD. This project will investigate what goes wrong in synapses by studying the proteins that are found within them. These proteins can be measured in life in the cerebrospinal fluid using a method called mass spectrometry. However, blood samples are more easily acquired and so a new protocol will be developed to measure these proteins in blood by extracting particles called extracellular vesicles that enter the blood from the brain. Once extracted, the level of synaptic proteins contained in such vesicles will also be measured using mass spectrometry. The project will use a large set of samples from the Genetic FTD Initiative allowing an understanding of how synapses change from the presymptomatic through to the symptomatic period. Beyond providing important insight into the mechanisms of disease, the development of such markers will be useful for future trials, potentially indicating restoration of synaptic function after treatment.