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Uncovering the role of exosome derived lipids in Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive dementia affecting more than 40 million people worldwide.

The lack of disease-modifying treatments and the knowledge that existing drugs offer only modest delays in symptom onset exacerbate the significant financial and emotional tolls that AD places on families and communities at large. A new approach to the study of Alzheimer’s disease is long overdue. In recent years, small extracellular vesicles released by the cell, called exosomes, have emerged as key players in neurodegenerative disease. Exosomes are important for two principal reasons, they contain a selection of proteins, RNA and lipids, which act as key players in cell-to-cell communication, and can be characterised to provide a snapshot of parental cell homeostasis.

The proposed project will access the wealth of lipidomic information contained within human brain exosomes. Lipids have been shown to play a fundamental role in influencing the various risk factors of AD and to be closely involved in the pathogenesis of AD. This will involve isolating and characterising exosomes from human control and Alzheimer’s disease brain. The aims are to afford the first lipid profile of brain derived exosomes and uncover the role of exosomal lipids in Alzheimer’s disease. The student will learn techniques including exosome isolation, western blotting, density gradients, electron microscopy and lipidomic profiling. This will be a collaborative research project with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental health and The University for Melbourne.

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