MSA Trust

Professor Janice Holton

Professor Janice Holton

Understanding selective brain regional vulnerability in multiple system atrophy

Janice Holton, Professor in Neuropathology, Director of Neuropathology, Queen Square Brain Bank, UCL Institute of Neurology

This research will use brain tissue donated by MSA patients after death and state of the art technologies to investigate whether alterations of the DNA found in all cell nuclei contribute to the susceptibility of nerve cells in different brain areas. DNA provides the code for cells to make individual proteins and it is known that changes to the DNA influence the activity of genes leading to changes in the amount of protein produced from the DNA code.

Work has already been carried out to identify the differences in the brain DNA of MSA brains, compared to controls.  The next part of the work is to analyse this information and to identify genes which are altered in different brain regions in MSA.

Professor Holton says about the study:

“This project will build on our previous work in which we are identifying small alterations to the cellular DNA that influence the expression of genes which in turn can alter the production of proteins and change cell function.

This is a new approach that has not been used to study MSA before and we hope that we will get a better understanding of what goes wrong in brain cells in MSA.

The information that we gain may be used in the future to improve diagnosis, develop new approaches to treatment and may give us information that can help to develop biomarkers to monitor disease progress in life and response to treatments in future drug trials. To increase the value of the study and promote future research we will make our data publicly available for other researchers to use.”

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