Mechanisms of Propagation

Prof. Dr. Karin Danzer

Areas of investigation/research focus

The research focus of my group is to study pathomechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases with particular focus on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson's disease. We aim to understand why neuropathology, starting from a local focus, spreads to different areas. In vitro, in vivo, and with human patient material, we investigate protein aggregation mechanisms, inflammatory processes, and gene expression regulation processes at the single cell level. We hope to understand why individual cell populations are particularly vulnerable and which factors play a role in this. In particular, we focus on the aggregating proteins alpha synuclein and TDP43.

For alpha synuclein we could already show in animal models that a transfer of alpha synuclein oligomers from neurons to neurons or even to non-neuronal populations takes place. Currently, we are also investigating the spread of TDP43 pathology in an ALS mouse model. Besides investigating spreading mechanisms in PD and ALS, we are also interested in epigenetic changes in ALS or PD patient blood or human brain tissue analyzed by multiomic single cell sequencing (mRNA and ATAC sequencing).

Our new insight could have direct impact on clinical diagnostics and provide new therapeutic intervention options in Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases.

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