Southampton Cellular Research And Tissue Engineering Systems

Investigating the role of neuroinflammation in brain function and dysfunction using human iPSCs and organoids

Our lab is interested in understanding how microglia, the brain’s main immune cell population, regulates brain development, function, and age-related dysfunction. In the past, we provided key information about how microglia regulate their population dynamics in development and in chronic neurodegenerative diseases, primarily by using animal models. However, in recent years our own research, and the broader field, has come to realise the very significant differences between mouse and human microglia. Now it’s the time to pivot to using human models for our research.

Active projects in the lab include the culture and study of human iPSC-derived microglia in the context of the senescent response associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to funding from the MRC we will develop an in vitro model of human microglial senescence, to later understand the functional consequences and therapeutic opportunities of this process in Alzheimer’s. We are also starting the culture of human brain organoids, including microglia, thanks to pilot funding from the Institute for Life Sciences, which will allow us to study neuroinflammation in a more physiologically relevant context. We hope these approaches will provide human-relevant data, key for tackling key disorders strongly associated with neuroinflammation, such as Alzheimer’s disease.