Dr Patrick Lewis
Dr Patrick Lewis is a Senior Research Fellow at the IoN's Department of Molecular Neuroscience. Patrick is working with the genetic material available at the IoN to investigate genes linked to neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. He describes his recent research as follows:
“My work over the past year has focused on developing novel cell models for conditions where plaque is observed in the brain such as frontal temporal dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Using newly-developed stem cell technology, we are attempting to induce skin cells from patients carrying mutations that cause these disorders to de-differentiate into stem cells (called induced pluripotent stem, or IPS, cells).
This work will be carried out in collaboration with Professor Martin Rosser at the Institute of Neurology’s Dementia Research Centre.
Having established stem cells from these lines, we are now working to differentiate them into neuronal cells to provide us with a model that we can use to examine the impact of mutations on basic cellular functions, comparing them to cells derived from age matched control patients. One of the ways in which we are going to use these cells, and are already using patients’ fibroblasts (cells capable of forming collagen fibres), is to carry out whole genome analyses to look for differences in gene expression throughout the human genome. This will uncover pathways altered by mutations that can then be analysed in the cells, and examined as potential drug targets.
Although this work is at an early stage, it has the potential to guide a major breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research and is a project that we are very excited about.”