Wednesday 21st March 2018
Past Research

Alzheimer’s Disease



PROJECT TITLE:  Human in vitro model of neurodegeneration in Familial Alzheimers disease

PROJECT TIMESCALE:  1st January 2011 – 3 years extended to 30 April 2015


Update July 2012 – ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Please click this link to read Erin Tse’s talk on the above. Erin is a 2nd year PhD student at Aston University.

May 2012 – SUMMARY


Please click on this link to see a summary of the above.  Support from The Trust was invaluable to the long-term development of our research group at Aston.  The Trust’s funding allowed us to build a research ‘platform’ of important methods and published papers which enabled us to be successful in research council grant funding, so we could advance alternative methods that are more relevant to man and they eliminate animal suffering.

Dr Mike Coleman, Ph.D, D.Sc, F.H.E.A

Please click on the link at the bottom of this article to download a paper which came out at the beginning of May in PLoS1 (Public Library of Science 1) which we are extremely proud of as it is the culmination of three years’ work.

Back in 2009, I was very keen to see how much the NTERA model could do functionally, in terms of the function of the neurones and astrocytes.  The Trust had supported us to develop the model and we had tested it in several ways, but we had not really looked at function, in the waythat when a new car rolls off the assembly line, you have to start it and drive off to really show that it works.  So, for a human nervous system model, I wanted to show that it would do what the human nervous system does at the most basic level.

The basis of this paper was the preparatory work that went in to convincing Oxford and Cambridge that our model would work and then in turn convincing the BBSRC to give us the iBrain money.

Moreover, this paper is a world first, as it shows the role of astrocytes in the way that neuronal networks function.  PLoS is an open access journal, which means that it is much more widely disseminated than other journals and although there is no paper copy, it also has a high impact factor (over 4).

The Trust has been acknowledged on the front page as you can see (highlighted in yellow), with the other organisations that supported our colleagues.

Again we could not have got this done without the Trust’s support.  Please click below to see full paper.

Published Paper

PROJECT TITLE:  Molecular endpoint development neurotoxicity test systems

PROJECT TIMESCALE:  3 years – 1st Oct 2007 – 30 November 2010

SCIENTISTS:  Dr Eric J Hill / David Nagel


PROJECT TITLE:  Further development of a human cell based neural/astrocytic co-culture o use with a neurotoxicity screening test battery

PROJECT TIMESCALE:  3 years running from 11th June 2007 – 10th May 2010

PHD STUDENT:  Liz Woehrling

Update:  May 2014

In the centre of the picture  is a six-week old human astrocyte, which has been differentiated from the human NTERA line, which are a basic type of stem cell.  Astrocytes  are so named as they are reminiscent in shape of a star, with their projecting foot-like processes.  These cells outnumber neurones by at least seven to one and they nurture and protect neurones and act like a support system to ensure neurones retain their functionality.

Liz Woehrling

Until recently, the full importance of astrocytes was not realised and new functions of these cells are being discovered almost weekly. With the use of human models such as the NTERA line, we can further our understanding of the basis of brain function without involving animals or animal cells. The picture was taken by Liz Woehrling, whose Ph.D and postdoctoral studies  were supported by the Trust.



Author: admin