Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for over two thirds of cases. There are currently no successful treatments, making the discovery of effective therapeutic interventions critical. The brain contains billions of neurons, and substantially more non-neuronal cells called glia; the major ones relevant to this proposal are astrocytes. While most therapeutic approaches target the neurons to prevent their death, this proposal focuses both on neurons and astrocytes to enhance their ability to protect neurons from death. We specifically propose to target a unique set of membrane channels, formed by connexins and pannexins, in astrocytes and neurons which modulate the extracellular environment in which the cells of the brain must function. The outcome of these studies will be the identification of unique new drugs which will not only directly target neurons but also enhance the astrocytes’ abilities to protect neurons that are vulnerable to degeneration in AD.
Christian Naus, Weihong Song, Juan Saez, Christian Giaume, Luc Leybaert