Research highlighted by the Dementia Revolution Blog

posted Jul 7, 2018, 2:16 AM by Mathew Horrocks

Read about our research on the Dementia Revolution Blog:

UK Korea Neuroscience Meeting

posted Jun 25, 2018, 6:44 AM by Mathew Horrocks

Mathew has been selected as a speaker at the 11th UK Korea Neuroscience meeting to be held in Busan, South Korea on 20-21st August.

Research from a UK-Australia collaboration published

posted Jun 25, 2018, 6:31 AM by Mathew Horrocks

Our work has recently been published in Cell Reports. The study makes use of single-molecule techniques to understand how extracellular molecular chaperones bind to aggregates formed from alpha-synuclein, the protein associated with Parkinson's disease. Usually, such aggregates have hydrophobic patches exposed, and it is believed that these enable them to punch holes into cell membranes, killing the cells. However, the chaperones bind to these patches, preventing them from damaging cells. As the body ages, it may be the case that these chaperones become less effective, and this could explain why neurodegenerative diseases become more prevalent with age.

New publication looking at the mechanisms of neuronal damage in Parkinson's disease

posted Jun 12, 2018, 2:07 AM by Mathew Horrocks
There are many different species of alpha-synuclein, and it's therefore a challenge to know which one is a good biomarker or therapeutic target. Using highly resolved methods to study these at the nanoscale, we have helped demonstrate which form of alpha-synuclein is damaging to cells. To achieve this, we brought together a team from multiple disciplines, across different universities and a number of UK DRI centres. Harnessing the breakthroughs in single-molecule methods, single cell imaging and stem cell biology, we have been able to take a multifaceted approach to resolve a significant problem in neurodegeneration.

The study, published in Nature Communications, adds to our growing understanding of the causes of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, and could influence drug design in the future.

We found that in neurons, clumps of alpha-synuclein moved to and damaged key proteins on the surface of mitochondria - the energy powerhouses of cells - making them less efficient at generating energy. They also triggered a channel on the surface of mitochondria to open, causing them to swell and burst, leaking out chemicals that tell the cell to die.

These findings were replicated in human brain cells, generated from skin cells of patients with a mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene, which causes early-onset Parkinson’s disease. By turning patient skin cells into stem cells, we could chemically guide them into become brain cells that could be studied in the lab. This cutting-edge technique provides a valuable insight into the earliest stages of neurodegeneration - something that brain scans and post-mortem analysis cannot capture.

Mathew does Pint of Science

posted May 21, 2018, 3:58 AM by Mathew Horrocks   [ updated May 21, 2018, 3:59 AM ]

In order to be able to do our research, we rely on funding from the public, either through taxes or generous charity donations. It's therefore really important to tell people what we do, and the Pint of Science series is an excellent way to do this. As part of this, Mathew presented the work of the Edinburgh Single-Molecule Biophysics Group in the Canon's Gait pub, in Edinburgh. The event was well attended, and there were some fantastic questions. It was also great to hear about the work being done by Benjamin Giblin, a Ph.D. student from the School of Physics.

Check out our new review on protein aggregation in Parkinson's disease

posted May 11, 2018, 2:15 AM by Mathew Horrocks

After being invited to submit a review on alpha-synuclein, the protein associated with Parkinson's disease and Dementia with Lewy bodies, our paper has now been published in Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology (

Pint of Science- Looking in, looking out

posted Apr 23, 2018, 10:20 AM by Mathew Horrocks   [ updated Apr 23, 2018, 1:47 PM ]

Come and hear more about our research over a pint on the 16th May, 7 pm at the Canon's Gate. Tickets are available here.

We'll be attending the Fluorescent Biomolecules and their Building Blocks Conference in July

posted Apr 23, 2018, 10:01 AM by Mathew Horrocks

Mathew will be attending the Fluorescent Biomolecules and their Building Blocks (FB3) conference being held in Glasgow, UK from Sat 30th June to Tue 3rd July, 2018. He will be giving an oral presentation, and is looking forward to what looks like an amazing line-up of speakers from around the world. 

There's still time to register!

The First Edinburgh-Dundee Parkinson's Research Symposium

posted Apr 23, 2018, 9:56 AM by Mathew Horrocks

It was great to attend the first Edinburgh-Dundee Parkinson's Research Symposium. The event was organised by our collaborator, Dr. Tilo Kunath, and brought together those working on Parkinson's disease at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee. We also got to hear from those living with Parkinson's, and a talk from Professor Sir Ian Wilmut. 

UK DRI Edinburgh Launch Event

posted Apr 23, 2018, 9:48 AM by Mathew Horrocks   [ updated Apr 23, 2018, 9:48 AM ]

We were pleased to attend the UK DRI launch held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The event was a great opportunity to meet researchers in Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole working on dementia. It was also fantastic to speak to others about the techniques that the Edinburgh Single-Molecule Biophysics Group are developing to aid research into neurodegenerative disorders.

More information can be found here.

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