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Study suggests a protein could play key role in neurodegenerative diseases

October 15, 2019

Research led by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Seville around one protein's role in regulating brain inflammation could improve our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases.

The findings of a study involving mice are published today (Tuesday 15 October) in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

The lead authors, Dr Miguel Burguillos from the University of Seville and Dr Miguel Branco from Queen Mary, found that when the brain is under inflammatory conditions a protein called TET2 regulates the immune response generated in the brain's immune cells (or microglia).

Although neuroinflammation has an important beneficial role in fighting infection and responding to brain injury, excess or chronic inflammation can kill surrounding neurons. The death of such neurons can lead to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

The authors found that removing TET2 in mice hampered the neuroinflammatory response.

Dr Burguillos said: "We already knew that TET2 removes particular 'chemical flags' from DNA that help determine whether a gene is active or not. However, we found that TET2 is actually needed to fully activate key immune cells of the brain. It appears to act differently in inflamed brain cells compared to those in other parts of the body."

Dr Branco said: "Although this is an exploratory study, the findings open up a new path for those researching neurodegenerative diseases where neuroinflammation driven by microglia contributes to their pathology. In the longer term it could shape the search for new treatments for those conditions."
-end-
For more information, please contact:

Chris Mahony Communications Executive (School of Medicine and Dentistry)
Queen Mary University of London
[E-mail] press@qmul.ac.uk
Tel: +44 0207 8826985

Notes to editors

Paper title: TET2 Regulates the Neuroinflammatory Response in Microglia; Authors: Carrillo-Jimenez A, Branco.M et al., Cell Reports 2019 29, 1-17

When the embargo lifts the paper will be available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.09.013

About Queen Mary University of London

At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.

In 1785, Sir William Blizard established England's first medical school, The London Hospital Medical College, to improve the health of east London's inhabitants. Together with St Bartholomew's Medical College, founded by John Abernethy in 1843 to help those living in the City of London, these two historic institutions are the bedrock of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Today, Barts and The London continues to uphold this commitment to pioneering medical education and research. Being firmly embedded within our east London community, and with an approach that is driven by the specific health needs of our diverse population, is what makes Barts and The London truly distinctive.

Our local community offer to us a window to the world, ensuring that our ground-breaking research in cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and population health not only dramatically improves the outcomes for patients in London, but also has a far-reaching global impact.

This is just one of the many ways in which Queen Mary is continuing to push the boundaries of teaching, research and clinical practice, and helping us to achieve the previously unthinkable.

Queen Mary University of London

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