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BNA 2023 | Unveiling the role of astrocytes in Alzheimer’s disease for novel therapeutic strategies

Julia TCW, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, MA, provides insights into the potential relevance of astrocytes as a therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Genome wide association studies in AD demonstrated that many risk genes are expressed in glial cells, suggesting the significance of studying this cell type. Microglia may play a causal role in the disease, and their activation can trigger a neuroinflammatory response in astrocytes. Astrocytes, which make up a large part of the brain cell mass, express numerous major risk genes and interact closely with microglia, oligodendrocytes, and neurons. It is thought that they become dysfunctional at early stages of the disease, losing their homeostatic functions and aggravating pathology development. While current therapeutic approaches focus on amyloid and tau, which are discovered at later stages of the disease, targeting astrocytes at an earlier stage when they transition into a proinflammatory state could be a promising opportunity to intervene before the appearance of these hallmark features of AD pathology. This interview took place at The BNA 2023 International Festival of Neuroscience in Brighton, UK.

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To contact Prof. TCW: [email protected], [email protected]