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Deciphering microglia: Exploring cellular pathways in neurodegenerative diseases

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

Deciphering microglia: Exploring cellular pathways in neurodegenerative diseases

28 October 2020

12:00 p.m. ET

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Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people every year, and for many, there is no effective treatment. The accumulation of neurotoxic peptides, activation of microglia, and neuroinflammation are hallmarks of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As the resident macrophages of the brain, microglia play a crucial role in the innate immune response of the central nervous system and are critical for neuronal development and homeostatic maintenance. Recent genome-wide studies have identified TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2) as a key genetic risk factor, essential for the transition of homeostatic microglia to disease-associated microglia. Loss of TREM2 function is associated with neurodegeneration, as this prevents microglial transition and affects chemotaxis, phagocytosis, cell survival, and lipid and energy metabolism. Additionally, biomarker studies have revealed that TREM2 may protect humans from AD, so increasing TREM2 activity and preventing its proteolytic cleavage may be a new therapeutic approach. Once microglia detect extracellular threats and transition to a disease-associated state, they can release inflammatory mediators and trigger activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, leading to the beta-amyloid deposition classically found in AD. Neuroinflammation can impair the ability of microglia to clear debris and can contribute to neuronal degeneration. In this webinar, the speakers will discuss key microglial functions and regulatory mechanisms necessary to maintain overall brain health, while revealing potential therapeutic targets in the fight against neurodegeneration.

During the webinar, viewers can:

  • Learn about the versatility of microglia and their roles in maintaining brain health
  • Discover how microglia become activated and trigger an innate immune response
  • Explore the microglial pathways implicated in neurodegenerative diseases
  • Ask questions during the live broadcast.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

You can also view Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.

Speaker bios

Michael Heneka, Ph.D.

University of Bonn Medical Center
Bonn, Germany

Dr. Heneka completed his doctoral degree in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Tübingen in Germany and his habilitation at the University of Bonn. He is currently Cooperation Unit Leader, Neuroinflammation, at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn, adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a professor and director of the Department of Neurodegenerative Disease and Geriatric Psychiatry/Neurology at the University of Bonn. The Heneka laboratory studies the interaction between innate and adaptive immunity and the central nervous system using novel preclinical mouse models and state-of-the-art techniques such as two-photon in vivo laser scanning microscopy, optogenetics, transcriptome analysis, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Major diseases studied include Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, septic encephalopathy, and multiple sclerosis, with the goal of developing new biomarkers and medical intervention programs.

Christian Haass, Ph.D.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
Munich, Germany

Dr. Haass is a graduate of Ruprecht Karl University in Heidelberg, Germany, where he completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts before joining their Department of Neurology as an assistant professor. In 1995, he moved back to Germany to the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim and then 4 years later to the Department of Metabolic Biochemistry at the Biomedical Center of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where he is currently head of that department and professor of biochemistry. Since 2009, he has also been the coordinator of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Munich. Dr. Haass has carried out groundbreaking work in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), including recent discoveries about the role of microglia in neurodegeneration and the identification of a myeloid cell receptor, TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2), which is a marker for microglial activity in the cerebrospinal fluid. TREM2 is also believed to be protective for AD and is being investigated by the Haass lab as a potential therapeutic target. Dr. Haass is on the board of reviewers of Science and on the advisory boards of numerous other journals, including Neuron and the EMBO Journal. He has been honored with multiple awards, most recently the 2018 Brain Prize (shared with Bart De Strooper, Michel Goedert, and John Hardy).

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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