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Dr Marta Swirski

Contribution of Aβ in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

Marta completed her first degree at King’s College London in Pharmacology. She continued her studies at Imperial College London achieving an MRes in Translational Medicine. The research project conducted at the Neuropathology unit, under the supervision of Dr Stephen Gentleman and Dr Michael Kalaitzakis, focused on nucleus basalis pathology in Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). In October 2011, Marta begun a PhD, supervised by Professor Seth Love and Dr Patrick Kehoe, at the Dementia Research Group.  Her project is sponsored by the charity Bristol Research into Alzheimer’s disease (BRACE).

Marta’s research is exploring the relationship between amyloid-beta (Aβ) and alpha synuclein (α-synuclein) in Parkinson’s disease (PD), DLB and PDD.  α-synuclein is present in all nerve cells but becomes abnormally aggregated and forms Lewy bodies in PD, PDD and DLB. What causes the abnormal aggregation of α-synuclein is unclear but research has indicated that a modification of α-synuclein (addition of phosphate at serine 129) promotes self-aggregation and nerve cell damage. Recent studies suggest that the number of Lewy bodies in the cerebral cortex in PDD and DLB is increased in patients who also have increased numbers of Aβ plaques in the cortex. Furthermore, Aβ has been shown to induce the addition of phosphate to several aggregation-prone components of the cell. This project should clarify the role of Aβ in α-synuclein-related diseases.