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Friday 11 December 2020 9:58am

Indranil Basak image 2020Dr Indranil Basak

In Parkinson's disease, particular groups of neurons die. So what's different about the other neurons that save them from death? Dr Indranil Basak is a Research Fellow mentored by Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes. He has recently been awarded a Project Grant by the Neurological Foundation to discover what saves some neurons from death.

Loss of dopamine neurons leads to the motor symptoms of Parkinson's. Therefore, many researchers study why dopamine neurons are vulnerable and die early in Parkinson's disease. However, since his PhD studies, Indranil has been interested in the neurons that don't die. In this project, he will study the factors that protect cortical neurons from dying, even though they are in the same brain environment as dopamine neurons.

Indranil has deleted a Parkinson's-related gene to study these neurons in a dish. Dopamine neurons develop protein aggregates and die. Although cortical neurons also form protein aggregates, they do not die.

In this project, Indranil will compare how different neurons digest protein aggregates and which metal ion transporters they express. Finding functions that only cortical neurons have will provide clues into how they survive.

This innovative project studies Parkinson's disease from a new angle, and along with it, brings the potential of new therapies. “If we can harness the protective components found in cortical neurons, perhaps we could save the dopamine neurons from dying”.

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