Our laboratory has been recently established to elucidate on the molecular level the mechanisms of ageing and of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s disease. The current focus is on AD and its association with age, since the highest risk factor for AD is age. One promising approach links structural and dynamic properties of the different membrane systems of cells to physiology, pathology, and performance of organisms. The knowledge gathered will lead to strategies for healthy ageing and for the design of therapeutic tools.
The combination of advanced biochemical and biophysical techniques will contribute to our understanding of the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases as well as being a clue for early diagnosis, therapy, and prevention. Interaction of amyloid beta peptides (Aβ), monomers/oligomers triggering AD, with biological membranes, e.g., their association with membrane proteins and lipids, is studied in detail because it results in significant impacts on cellular function and neurotoxicity. We also address the important question: what is the difference between Aß interaction with cells and their membranes/organelles in the ‘young’ and ‘old’ state.
The lab of Prof. Dencher at MIPT, in tight cooperation with Prof. Willbold (Forschungszentrum Juelich and Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany), collects structural information of the most toxic Aβ oligomer species and any assemblies relevant for their formation or conversion into Aβ fibrils. We expect that these studies will deliver the first high resolution structural details of the Aβ species that are responsible for development and progression of AD. This binational cooperation also gives us the opportunity to transfer basic scientific results to biomedical application (in diagnosis and therapy), as well as to clinical research, also to attract external investments to achieve our tasks.
At MIPT we are applying a variety of biochemical, biophysical and cell-biological techniques to evolutionary distant organisms as well as to model systems, especially to their membranes, to answer pertinent questions in ageing research: Why and how do we age? Which factors and mechanisms affect life-expectancy, life-span, and health-span? How can we prolong life-span and especially health-span? Does nutrition influence health- and life-span, and by which mechanisms? What is the common biology of ageing and the age-associated diseases Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Dementia?
Main Lab Members
Prof. Dr. Norbert Dencher
Head of the Laboratory
Dr. Nikolay Ilinsky