Kevin Huynh

The role of plasmalogen and other lipids in Alzheimer's disease

 Kevin Huynh headshot
2015 AADRF Half-funded PhD Scholarship
Project Snapshot

Early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is believed to offer the best outcomes for patients. However, current methods to identify the disease before symptoms are evident are both expensive and invasive. Lipids (fats) are important molecules that are present in our cells and blood. Previous work has demonstrated differences in how lipids are regulated in Alzheimer’s disease. In this project, we will use new technology to measure over 500 lipids in a single drop of blood. We will perform these measurements on 5,000 samples from 1000 individuals to identify lipids which good markers of the disease. These will be used to develop a method for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Detailed Project Summary

Alzheimer’s disease has a complex etiology and there are many factors that contribute to the disease pathogenesis. Treatment options are limited but early detection and treatment before severe neurological impairment is likely to provide better outcomes. Lipids make up the membranes of every cell in the body and the circulating lipoproteins in our blood. Previous works have demonstrated differences in how lipids are regulated in Alzheimer’s disease. One class of lipids, plasmalogens, have been shown to be essential for normal brain development are lower in people with dementia in both the blood and brain tissues. Our laboratory has developed a lipidomics platform that utilizes mass spectrometry to examine over 500 individual lipid species from 30 different classes and subclasses, including 48 species of plasmalogens, in a high-throughput manner using only a single drop of blood. This project will use this technology in order to obtain plasma lipid profiles from over 5,000 samples from the AIBL study. We will then identify lipids associated with Alzheimer’s disease and develop predictive models for disease onset and progression. We will also explore plasmalogen modifying compounds in a cellular model to examine the effects on Alzheimer’s disease related pathways.

Where are they now?

Mr Huynh is currently in the second year of his PhD at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Victoria.