Selina Wray leads research, investigating why abnormalities in a protein called ‘tau’ can lead to brain cell death in different kinds of dementia, to better understand the role of genes in the development of these conditions.
Skin samples from people living with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and familial Alzheimer’s Disease (fAD) are reprogrammed into stem cells – these are “master cells” that are capable of forming any of the cell types in our body.
By directing the stem cells to form brain cells known as neurons, Selina and her team are able to create “brains in a dish” models that can be used to understand why brain cells generated from people living with dementia behave differently to those from control participants.
A small team from Created Out of Mind team are donating their skin cells to be grown into neurons. Working in close collaboration with Selina and researcher Christopher Lovejoy, they are learning about, and reflecting on, how this field of research can increase our understanding of the brain and degenerative brain diseases.
Selina Wray is based at the UCL Institute of Neurology, and her research is funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK). Christopher Lovejoy is a PhD student in the Wray laboratory.