Neuroscience & Non-Communicable Diseases Seminar Series
Speaker: Associate Professor Anthony Don, University of Sydney Medical School and Centenary Institute, Sydney
A/Prof Anthony Don completed PhD at UNSW Sydney in 2004, then undertook postdoctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute, USA, supported by an NHMRC fellowship. He established a lipid biochemistry and lipidomic research team at UNSW in 2009, relocating to the Centenary Institute and University of Sydney in 2016.
His research team employs lipidomic mass spectrometry, brain bank tissue, genetic mouse models and molecular pharmacology to define the biochemical changes that pre-dispose to neurodegenerative diseases, and develop new drugs for restoring myelin in multiple sclerosis and dementia. As part of the research program, his team are currently working with the new National Drug Discovery Centre to develop inhibitors of ceramide synthesis for both neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases.
Genetics overwhelmingly implicates altered lipid homeostasis as a driving force in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. I will describe our research showing loss of the essential signalling lipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) early in Alzheimer’s disease and during normal ageing; and demonstrate how this sensitizes to dementia by severely compromising oligodendrocyte survival and disrupting an important neuroprotective signalling circuit in astrocytes. S1P receptor agonists are used clinically as immunosuppressants to treat multiple sclerosis. Our current research shows that this class of drugs are more generally applicable for promoting neuroprotection and myelin repair in multiple sclerosis and dementias.