Hi all, my name is Kiran, and I am the newest member of the Research Team!
My role within the MND Association is as a Research Officer, where I am helping organise the International Symposium on ALS/MND and communicating the latest research to the wider community, including writing for this blog. Before joining the Association, I completed a masters degree in Neuroscience at Cardiff University. I was particularly interested in the biological mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases because there is still so much to be understood.
I have carried out several research projects during my time at university, one being within the Dementia Research Institute investigating the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease on microglia, the brains immune cells. My aim was to find any changes within these cells which could help reduce the build-up of toxins within the brain. I used fly models to show the activity of the microglia was drastically reduced, meaning the cells were not getting the energy they needed to work effectively. Later studies used my research as a stepping stone to find ways to bring the microglia activity back up to full strength. This offers another pathway that could be targeted by a potential treatment to help people living with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The following year I undertook a masters project researching the progression of Huntington’s Disease, a fatal genetic disorder affecting 7,000 people in the UK. In humans, the neurons begin to die and with the advancement of science it is now possible to grow cells in a lab to replicate the disease. I used this method to grow neurons in a dish and investigated how the disease spreads between cells. To do this, I treated them with a small cell product called an ‘exosome’. In our body, exosomes are frequently used to transfer information between cells, similar to us sending letters. I wanted to know if these letters contained harmful information and if this was causing damage to the cells. This research was exciting because if changes had happened, it could highlight a mechanism which could be a new drug targets to slow down the disease in people.
I have also helped with other voluntary projects such as supporting a conference to introduce a national gene hub for Fragile X Syndrome in the UK. This event was remarkable as it brought families and healthcare professions together to discuss what support the families needed and what we could do to implement it into the healthcare system. We gained an amazing response, having over 100 people from across the UK join us at this event in Leicester! As a result, a care plan is now being developed to aid families from the point of diagnosis. Having experienced both working within research and with families, I feel privileged to now be working for the MND Association to support the collective goal of creating a world free from MND.
To find out more about Fragile X syndrome, please see the youtube video below!
There is so much I have learnt about MND including all of the ongoing research that we support. I will be attending this years’ Symposium to understand more about the ground-breaking research being carried out across the world from researchers, healthcare professionals and people living with MND. I am proud to be working on the symposium and am hopeful that bringing people together will promote new research findings and spark ideas to help people living with MND.
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