Can a type of supportive brain cell rescue neurons damaged by Parkinson's disease?
Dementias Platform UK article
For many years, astrocytes were thought to only provide passive support to neurons, and thus were not studied in the context of Parkinson's disease pathogenesis. However, recent evidence has demonstrated that this type of glial cell plays a role in Parkinson's disease, although their specific involvement in the development of the disease is yet to be unveiled. The aim of my research is to gain a deeper understanding of the role of astrocytes in Parkinson's disease pathogenesis, as well as how these cells interact with neurons during the course of the disease. To approach this, I use mixed iPSC-derived dopaminergic neuron and midbrain astrocyte co-cultures. In the future, the goal will be to also study the role of microglia in Parkinson's disease, using iPSC-derived dopaminergic neuron, midbrain astrocyte and microglia tri-cultures.
I studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Basque Country, graduating in 2019. For my Bachelor's thesis, I studied the role of GABAB receptors in the development of oligodendrocytes. Afterwards, I completed a Master's of Science in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2020. I did my first MSc laboratory rotation in the Wade-Martins lab, where I did some preliminary research using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived dopaminergic neuron and midbrain astrocyte co-cultures.