Resolving white matter dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease with novel biosensors

Half of the human brain is white matter—the tissue that surrounds and insulates neurons—but little is known about how white matter damage occurs in Alzheimer’s disease and how it influences the spread of the characteristic protein “tangles” and “plaques” we see in brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. This proposal addresses uncharted territory in Alzheimer’s disease research, using a combination of new imaging methods, biosensors and cutting-edge models to enable us to identify the role of white matter in Alzheimer’s disease progression for the first time. Importantly, as white matter lesions appear prior to symptom onset and can be monitored noninvasively by new MRI scanners, they may be an ideal biomarker and target for early treatment to block Alzheimer’s disease.

Affiliated Investigators

Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir, Ph.D.

University of Cambridge

Dr. Ragnhildur Thóra Káradóttir is a Wellcome Trust Career Development Research Fellow  at  the  Wellcome  Trust  –  MRC  Stem  Cell  Institute  and  Department  of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Her research has focused on understanding the function and biology of the CNS white matter,  with  the  particular  aim  of  understanding  how  neuronal  activity  regulates oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in both health and disease. The main interest of this work is to understand white matter pathology in Alzheimer’s disease, with a special focus on myelination.  Previously, Dr. Káradóttir held a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin research fellowship after  her  PhD  at  University  College  London,  prior  to  moving  to  University  of Cambridge.  Dr.  Káradóttir has recently been awarded the Lister Institute Research Prize and selected to the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence.