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2017 Grants - Cobos
Single-Cell RNA-Seq in Human AD to Define Selective Cell Vulnerability
Inma Cobos, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant (AARG)
Why are some nerve cells more vulnerable to dying in Alzheimer’s disease than others?
The brain contains many different cell types, including thousands of different types of nerve cells. Scientists have known for many years that certain types of nerve cells are more vulnerable to dying in Alzheimer’s disease than other nerve cells. However, the reasons for these differences are not well understood.
Although all cells in a person’s body contain the same genetic code, specific genes are turned on or off in different cell types. Those differences in gene expression are responsible for giving different cell types their unique characteristics, as well as their vulnerably or resistance to diseases. The genes that are turned on (expressed) in a cell can be determined by measuring and sequencing the cell’s ribonucleic acids (RNA).
Inma Cobos, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed using a new technique that allows them to isolate thousands of nerve cells from human brain tissue and to sequence the RNA in individual cells. They plan to use this technique in human brain tissue from people who had Alzheimer’s disease at different stages. The researchers will determine which RNA sequences are associated with nerve cell survival and which are associated with nerve cell death.
This study will greatly expand our knowledge of which nerve cells in the brain are the most vulnerable to dying in Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, it will provide information about which genes are associated with vulnerability and which are associated with resistance to dying. That information will help scientists develop strategies to detect early-stage disease and possibly to slow or halt disease progression.