Targeting gut microbiota to understand and therapeutically modulate pathogenesis in Huntington's disease

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Anthony Hannan
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Carolina Gubert

Summary The Epigenetics and Neural Plasticity Laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.We explore how genes and the environment combine via experience-dependent plasticity in the healthy and diseased brain. Our research includes models of specific neurological and psychiatric disorders which involve cognitive and affective dysfunction, investigated at behavioural, cellular and molecular levels so as to identify pathogenic mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. Most recently, this has included studies of intergenerational and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.

Project Details

Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder involving complex symptomatology, including cognitive deficits (culminating in dementia), psychiatric symptoms (particularly depression) and motor deficits (including chorea). There are no disease-modifying therapies available for this devastating disease, which progresses over 10-20 years before killing patients.  Recent years have witnessed the rise of the study of gut microbiota (the billions of bacteria and other microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal tract) as a major research topic for complex central nervous system disorders.   This revolution in biomedical research has revealed that, in addition to the trillion or so cells in each of our bodies, we have over a trillion microbes (mainly bacteria) living in and on our bodies, particularly the gut.  We were recently the first to discover dysbiosis (altered gut microbiome profile) in Huntington's disease. This was achieved via DNA sequencing using fecal samples from a transgenic mouse model of Huntington's disease (R6/1 mice). This project aims to study new pharmacological and environmental interventions to delay the onset of Huntington's disease in this transgenic mouse model, via experimental manipulations of gut microbiome composition.  We will investigate impacts on the dementia and depression-like behaviours, as well as the movement disorder. This project will use environmental and pharmacological modulation, cognitive and behavioural tasks, as well as cellular and molecular approaches, including genetics, genomics and bioinformatics tools.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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