Our brain is an energy-hungry organ surrounded by a rich network of blood vessels supplying the oxygen and nutrients required to function. It is essential that the microenvironment in the brain is finely controlled, and this is achieved through the specialist blood-brain barrier (BBB) structure. However, dysfunction of the BBB is recognised as one of the earliest events in the progression of brain disorders that cause dementia, and scientists are working to understand why this occurs.
We have previously discovered that one type of cell within the BBB, the pericyte, is particularly affected during disease and we aim to fully understand the consequences to the BBB and brain health as a whole. Using a combination of advanced molecular and imaging techniques including MRI, we seek to uncover the disease mechanisms at play and identify therapeutic targets for intervention.
My group aim to understand how, when, and where endothelial cells and pericytes lining the blood-brain barrier become dysfunctional in the early stages of age-related cognitive decline using cutting-edge brain imaging technology. Our ultimate goal is to develop precise treatments targeting brain vasculature to protect brain functions.