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Joint meeting with Neurodegenerative Diseases: Genes, Mechanisms and Therapeutics

NeuroImmune Interactions in Health and Disease

June 7-9, 2021 | 9:00AM EDT | 1:00PM UTC | 3:00PM CEST*
*Program is in development and subject to change

Bonus Content

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Accelerating Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Diagnostics & Treatments with Collaborative Open-Access Resources

As our population ages, Alzheimer’s disease is becoming increasingly burdensome, not only on patients and their families, but also the healthcare system as a whole. To accelerate progress towards effective treatments, and early diagnostics, the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative (ADDI) was born. The ADDI aims to facilitate the sharing of data, resources and tools amongst the global Alzheimer’s disease research community. As an open-source platform, they hope to enable collaborations and drive translational insights that will finally make an impact against this challenging disease.

Check out the Keypoint Blog for an exclusive Q&A with Dr. Mukta Phatak, PhD, Director of Data Science at ADDI, about the organization, its goals, and vision:

Read on the Keypoint Blog

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Meta Curated Reading List

Meta is a free research discovery tool from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, providing a faster way to understand and explore science through personalized feeds. Meta uses machine learning to quickly analyze, map and cluster tens of millions of articles and preprints so researchers can easily follow developments, intersections, and emerging trends.

Check out the Meta curated reading list below for these joint eSymposia!

Find out more about Meta here:

Transformational Technologies & Treatments with Dr. Francisco Quintana

1. Tracing Single-Cell Interactions in the CNS with Viral Barcoding

What if you could eavesdrop on conversations between neurons and microglia in the brain, to discover how they influence each other’s behavior and function? What could you find out about the brain, and processes like learning and memory formation? What would it reveal about psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and more?

Now you can with a transformational new technology from Dr. Francisco Quintana of Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute. Quintana has repurposed the rabies virus as a tracer for single-cell interactions in the brain. Not only can this innovative approach show which cells physically contact each other in the CNS, it can also unveil how those interactions influence transcriptional programing in neighboring cells, thereby altering their behavior. This powerful new tool enables researchers to examine how glial cells interact with neurons, and vice versa, to reveal underlying pathology behind neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders.

Hear more about Dr. Quintana’s work in this KSQA interview and in his presentation at the eSymposia on Neurodegenerative Diseases: Genes Mechanisms and Therapeutics.

Read more in the Science publication here:
Barcoded viral tracing of single-cell interactions in central nervous system inflammation

2. “Vaccinating” Against Multiple Sclerosis

One of the greatest challenges to treating neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases is physically getting treatments past the blood brain barrier, and into the CNS itself. Dr. Francisco Quintana of Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute has devised a clever solution to this perplexing problem. Instead he has designed a way to re-educate the immune system from the outside, targeting peripheral dendritic cells as master-regulators of T-cells, which then travel throughout the body and into the brain.

In the context of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), this approach is a powerful way to reprogram immune responses that are wrongly attacking host tissues. Quintana uses nanoparticles similar to those used in vaccines, but in this case redesigned to suppress immune responses against a particular antigen, instead of activating them. This is accomplished with two key ingredients: 1) a special molecule that triggers immune-suppressive transcriptional programing and 2) any antigen of interest. These nanoparticles are ingested by dendritic cells within lymph nodes, inducing a tolerogenic phenotype that instructs T-cells not to attack cells with that antigen.

In mouse models of MS, the nanoparticle treatment not only induced regulatory T-cells that traveled to the brain, but once there, these T-cells orchestrated the transformation of the local microenvironment, correcting the pathological behavior of astrocytes and microglia that were driving neuroinflammation. Miraculously, the approach both prevented and even reversed disease progression.

Quintana has adapted the versatile platform to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases with great success, including MS and type-I diabetes, and even inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Many of these candidates are now ready to enter clinical trials, offering hopes of a cure for diseases that have challenged modern medicine for decades.