Making strides in Alzheimer’s research

Making strides in Alzheimer’s research

GlycoNet Press Release

Aalyssa Atley • Posted: January 26, 2022


“One striking observation made in the last 5–10 years is that genetic factors that can influence your susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease converge on immune cells in the brain, called microglia,” says Matthew Macauley, GlycoNet researcher and Canada Research Chair in Chemical Glycoimmunology at the University of Alberta (U of A).

In Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegenerative plaques begin forming decades before manifestation of the disease, and it’s at this early stage of disease progression that Macauley and his team are studying how microglia influence formation of these plaques.

“Not only do the quality of microglia—defined by a person’s genetic make-up—influence the tendency to develop plaques, but it also influences how the microglia respond to the plaques once they are developed,” explains Macauley. “In the brain, as the plaques start to develop, the microglia try their best to contain them in different ways. But in the process of trying to do so, they can change and develop into versions that are better or worse in fighting the disease.”

Territorial Acknowledgement

The University of Alberta, its buildings, labs, and research stations are primarily located on the traditional territory of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, and Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe nations; lands that are now known as part of Treaties 6, 7, and 8 and homeland of the Métis. The University of Alberta respects the sovereignty, lands, histories, languages, knowledge systems, and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations.

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