Only 3% of the DNA in our genome encodes for genes which make proteins. This is because the bulk of the cell’s DNA is to ensure proper control of these genes and functioning of our genome.
Our lab tries to understand how during our life span and in response to challenges, such as infection or neural trauma, the cell controls the function of genes allowing us to respond to whatever life throws at us.
With such knowledge, new areas of biomedical research can be investigated. This will improve our ability to identify novel pathways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure diseases.
Our areas of research include Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia and indeed what underpins a healthy ageing brain. Through molecular, cellular and genetic analysis we are beginning to shed light on the black box of brain function. Using the analogy of advances in cancer research over the last 30 years, with the application of similar strategies, we hope to see major advances in CNS disease treatment over a shorter time frame.
One example of our research that spans the cancer-neurodegeneration fields and that is a feature of cancer is the instability of the genome; we are studying a similar phenomenon in the ageing brain. We therefore propose that this increasing instability of the genome in some of our neurons is underlying many neurodegenerative conditions such as Motor Neurone, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.