Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and its prevalence in Australia is increasing at a rapid rate. By 2050, Alzheimer’s disease is predicted to be the most costly health problem in the country. This imminent epidemic can only be prevented with the development of novel treatments.
One of the problems with trying to work out how to treat Alzheimer’s disease is that the brain of animal models is a particularly poor substitute for the complexity of the human brain. Recently, with the advent of stem cell technology, it has become possible to convert skin cells from Alzheimer’s disease patients into neurons in the laboratory. These neurons show many of the deficits that we see in Alzheimer’s disease brains. In addition, one interesting clue we have about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is that diabetes increases the risk of developing the disease. In the proposed work we intend to manipulate the insulin signaling pathway to try and rescue the neurons from patients so that they behave exactly like those from a person without Alzheimer’s disease or any other brain disease.
In so doing we hope to uncover novel targets for a future cure to this devastating disease.