Tuesday, November 20, 2018

2018 SfN Meeting: Remembering Automated Microscopy in your Dementia Research

Dementia is a class of mental process disorders for which there are currently little to no treatment options. This is especially true in the later stages of Alzheimer's, a significant target for new treatments. At the 2018 Society for Neuroscience Conference, a commonly used model was presented containing three pathological components of Alzheimer's research: amyloid-β plaques, tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles, and microglia activation. In each one of these three research fields, the automated microscopy and plate reading functionality that BioTek Instruments provides will continue to play a crucial role in both qualitative and quantitative analyses. The combination of fixed and live cell samples will require both versatile and sensitive instrumentation to advance research aims.

These three Alzheimer's pathological pathways have their own unique biomarkers and analytical questions. In amyloid-β and tau neurofibrillary tangles research, a common assay presented was the measurement of the accumulation and structure of these proteins. For the larger samples of neurological tissue, both immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry techniques continue to assess the progression of the disease such as gross production of plaques and fibrillary aberrations. At the intracellular level, microscopy is used to track molecular dynamics to understand the role of both localizations and posttranslational modifications in disease progression and treatments. The establishment of the role of microglia in Alzheimer’s disease is playing a critical role in progressing disease models and innovative treatments. Not only can fluorescent microscopy be used to examine defining cell type markers and molecular changes in fixed samples but live co-cultures are also used to examine intercellular interactions. Localizing and measuring the proximity of different cell types in addition to the simultaneous imaging of neuronal phenotypes are unraveling a complex and important story that may help many in the near future.

By: BioTek Instruments, Tom Lampert, Field Applications Scientist

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