Omics and Neurobiology of Ageing

Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) Research - Omics and Neurobiology of Ageing Group
CHeBA Omics and Neurobiology of Ageing is a collaborative group composed of staff and students from CHeBA, the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI) and the UNSW MW Analytical Centre Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry Facility (BMSF).

About the Omics and Neurobiology of Ageing Research Group

Ageing is the major demographic change of this millennium and has important implications for disease, and health care practice and policy. By the year 2030, the elderly (>65 years) in Australia will comprise 22% of the population, a quarter of whom will be over 80. The major brain disorders of concern are Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Vascular Dementia (VaD). A better understanding of novel molecular targets of disease to use in diagnostics and therapeutics is acute. This interdisciplinary group was formed to apply state-of-the-art analytical techniques to the advancement of biomarker and pathophysiology research in the areas of normal ageing, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s Disease and other age-related neurodegenerative conditions. The group relies on a variety of mass spectrometry techniques for proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics qualitative and quantitative analyses, physicochemical approaches to understanding protein-protein and protein-lipid/metabolite interactions and advanced molecular biology and neuroimaging techniques.

Although a growing number of clinical research laboratories use mass spectrometry (MS) applications to investigate proteomic changes in AD, insufficient effort has been dedicated to studying alterations in levels of small molecules, nucleotides and lipids. To effectively address any therapeutic challenge in AD and VaD, however, requires detailed information about its underlining molecular pathology. Our group adopts state-of-the-art untargeted and targeted lipidomics proteomics and metabolomics approach, nanotechnology, as well as MPI and MRI imaging, to profile plasma and postmortem brains from AD and VaD subjects and non-demented controls from well established longitudinal ageing cohorts, and established animal and human cell culture models. Defining systems-level alterations in AD and VaD could provide insights into disease mechanisms, reveal sex-specific changes, advance the development of biomarker panels, and aid in monitoring therapeutic efficacy, which should advance individualized medicine. Since metabolic pathways are largely conserved between species, an unbiased -omics approach could improve the translation of preclinical research conducted in animal models of AD and VaD into humans. Our current work is committed to discovering the fundamental causes and possible treatments for age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, and neurodevelopmental diseases, as well as on genetic and metabolic changes that take place as organisms grow old. Working individually and collaboratively across labs and disciplines, we are uncovering novel insights that expand knowledge and promise to enhance quality of life for an ageing population.

We also have state-of-the-art facilities to study the cellular and developmental biology of the brain. We have the expertise to culture, propagate, differentiate, engineer and transplant in animal models the neural stem cells from various sources including skin-derived neuroprogenitors and human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. In addition, we have expertise in the derivation of new human embryonic stem cell lines including their clonal propagation.
Our collaborative interdisciplinary team consists of neuroscientists, protein and analytical chemists, psychiatrists, and bioinformaticians working in Australia and abroad. We are actively involved and open to new collaborations with emerging leaders and leading national and international research institutes to gain greater access to exceptional research tools. 

Aims

  1. To fully characterise potential biomarkers and develop simple tools to diagnose and detect severity, progression for neurodegenerative diseases and Alzheimer’s disease in particular (Prognostics);
  2. To explore therapeutic strategies to attenuate cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease pathology that can be translated into the clinic (Therapeutics). 

Staff

Administrative Officers

PhD Students

  • Fatemeh Khorshidi
  • Marina Ulanova
  • Gurjeet Virk
  • Chul-Kyu Kim