I fell in love with Neuroscience during my degree in Neuroscience at the University of Leeds. I quickly became fascinated by the processes underlying neurodegenerative diseases and knew I wanted to pursue research in this area. During my year in industry working at the Centre for Biomarker research at the University of Huddersfield, I discovered how rewarding working in a research lab can be which left no doubt in my mind that I wanted to study for a PhD. As neurodegenerative diseases are one the leading causes of death, it is crucial that we understand more about the mechanisms underlying these diseases. I was also introduced to the extracellular matrix structures Perineuronal Nets during my degree which also captured my interest. Being able to combine both research interests for my PhD project is really exciting.
My project is titled “Perineuronal nets as a barrier to α-synuclein neuronal internalisation”. α-synuclein is the major component of Lewy Bodies which are the pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s Disease. Perineuronal nets are a specialised extracellular matrix structure which are found surrounding neurones in specific areas of the central nervous system. During my project I am to:
- Characterise the α-synuclein species, and their structures recovered from human Parkinson’s Disease samples.
- Determine the interactions between chondroitin sulphates within the perineuronal nets and the α-synuclein species identified in (1).
- Determine the impact of these interactions on α-synuclein internalisation and seeding, in addition to neuronal morphology and physiology.
My project will provide further insights into the molecular mechanisms which underpin the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease and provide further information as to whether perineuronal nets act as a protective barrier against α-synuclein neuronal internalisation.