Name: “Homeo-brain” Neuronal compartments in the interaction of disease and health.
Duration: 01.04.2021 until 31.03.2024
Funding: 1.4 million euros from the “Niedersächsisches Vorab” of the Volkswagen Foundation
as well as participating non-university research institutions and other universities
The human brain consists of 83 billion nerve cells and just as many glial cells. Their inner milieu is kept in a state of equilibrium by finely tuned metabolic processes, the so-called metabolic homeostasis. Recent neurological studies show that especially aging processes in the brain, which are accompanied by an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, ALS, Parkinson's disease), have their common cause in a dysfunctional homeostasis of brain cells. So far, there is a lack of precise measurement tools and methods to study in detail the metabolic interplay between the complex subcompartments of neurons and glial cells (such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes). The common starting point for the scientists involved in the HomeoBrain project. They are investigating how the subcompartments of the nerve cells - cell bodies, dendrites, axons and synapses - interact with each other and with the glial cells, and what effects a disturbed metabolic homeostasis, for example after an infection, has on the brain. Answering these complex questions requires precise measurement tools and optical systems, which will be developed by an interdisciplinary research team that will enable the analysis of subcompartments of neurons and their metabolome. The team consists of researchers from the fields of neurobiology, systems biology, chemistry and engineering sciences such as mechanical and electrical engineering. The collaboration of engineering sciences and biomedical research is expected to contribute to a better understanding of disease processes in the brain, thereby enabling targeted causal research of age-associated neurological diseases. In addition, more precise knowledge of metabolic homeostasis should open up the possibility of testing active substances more efficiently. For both questions - basic research as well as drug analysis - not only existing analytical methods will be used, but also highly integrated microflow systems with new optical methods will be developed, in which single neurons and their subcompartments can be analyzed and stimulated highly efficiently. The basis for this development is the interdisciplinary collaboration of the research centers BRICS (systems biology/infection research), PVZ (drug discovery) and LENA (nanometrology). Interdisciplinary networking thus enables basic research to advance the fight against major brain diseases in terms of measurement and therapy.
Research project Homeo-Hirn wins 2nd place of the North German Science Award 2022.
Prof. Dr. Martin Korte
Technische Universität Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 391-3220