St Cross College
CDT Postgraduate Studentship in Healthcare Innovation (RCUK Digital Economy Programme grant number EP/G036861/1)
Modelling the progress of neurodegenerative diseases
Neuronal degenerative diseases have been of great concern since their discovery. The number of patients that suffer from these pathologies is dramatic and, due to an aging population, these will tend to increase. With modern medicine it is possible to care for patients for many years. Unfortunately these treatments incur large costs on health insurance systems. For all these reasons there is a lot of research surrounding them. In the research I’m involved with we are concerned with the role of the neurotransmitter glutamate. This is because the mechanisms in which this amino acid is involved are central for neural tissue function (i.e. memory and learning). However, it has been found that it is also toxic to the neuron when found in high concentrations in the extracellular space. This has already been identified as the main cause for neuron death during a stroke.
Our approach to studying the dynamics of this neurotransmitter is through the creation of a mathematical model that simulates cerebral tissue behaviour. It will have the potential to 1) forecast the progression of these diseases; 2) identify new biomarkers and 3) aid in the development of patient specific drugs.