Anna Williams group, University of Edinburgh
The Williams group has two linked programmes of research centred on understanding human pathology linked with changes in oligodendroglia and myelin, focussing on the:
1. Mechanism of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD).
SVD is common, important as a cause of dementia and stroke, yet relatively understudied and its aetiology is unknown. We have discovered that dysfunctional endothelial cells are the key problem, and are investigating upstream of this, to understand genetic changes which provoke dysfunction, and downstream to determine the effectors of this dysfunction and their subsequent effects on the surrounding brain.
2. Mechanism of remyelination in Central Nervous System (CNS) repair.
We investigate a) which signals in the oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) microenvironment direct their activation, migration and maturation for repair, b) how OPCs themselves can be manipulated to ensure more efficient repair c) how oligodendroglia are heterogeneous and how this affects their biology and d) how they interact with other cells, including axons via synapses in the context of demyelination and remyelination, using a hierarchy of in vitro and in vivo models and human post mortem tissue.