Catherine Blizzard

Do therapeutically targetable deficits in neuroplasticity drive Frontotemporal Dementia?

Award: 
Dementia Australia Research Foundation – Norma Beaconsfield Project Grant
Status: 
In Progress
Project Snapshot: 

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that is in desperate need of new therapeutic interventions. We have identified a novel mechanism that may be causing the nerve cell loss that causes FTD. Changes to synapses - the specialised structures that allow nerve cells to communicate with each other – may be an early disease-causing event in FTD. TDP-43, a DNA processing protein, is one of the main proteins that have been identified to play a role in FTD. We have revealed convincing evidence that the dysfunction of TDP-43 can lead to the synaptic disturbances that characterises FTD. It is now time to carefully map the earliest changes in synapses and try and prevent these changes from happening. This proposal will use live imaging in real time to pin point the earliest disease causing changes and then try and prevent these changes from happening.

Where are they now?: 

Dr Blizzard is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow at the Menzies Institute For Medical Research, University of Tasmania.