Psychology and Neuroscience Seminar – Michael Daniels

The School of Psychology and Neuroscience is hosting a seminar presented by Michael Daniels from the University of Edinburgh, entitled ‘Friend or Foe: The role of microglia and neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease’.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder affecting approximately 50 million people worldwide. However, there is no truly effective treatment. After years of believing Alzheimer’s and many other brain diseases to be independent of inflammation we now understand that microglia play an important role in regulating the underlying causes and progression of numerous brain diseases. However, we do not currently understand how these cells seem to be both damaging in some situations but protective in others. Two of the major roles of microglia in the brain are secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and phagocytosis of debris.

In my research, I am studying how the regulation/dysregulation of these processes may underpin susceptibility or resilience to neurodegenerative disease. During my PhD, we discovered that a subclass of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit cytokine secretion via a complex called the NLRP3 inflammasome are effective in multiple cell and animal models of AD. Now, I am working to understand the phagocytic capacity of microglia and the mechanisms by which microglial cells in neurodegenerative disease employ phagocytosis to either the benefit or detriment of the brain. Through this research we hope to improve our understanding of microglia and neuroinflammation in dementia and help direct future drug discovery, driving much needed new therapies for this devastating disease.

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