Pre-Conference Workshop Day

Workshop A: Deep-Dive into the Use of iPSC-Derived Cells Models to Measure Neuroinflammation in Neurodegeneration

Monday, April 18 | 8:30am - 10:30am

Neuroinflammation is increasing being thought of as a causal mechanism driving neurodegeneration. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) are highly promising models that enable researchers to model the neuroinflammation generated in specific neural cell types, to then allow us to begin to track the progression of inflammation and thus neurodegeneration. Current challenges with iPSC-derived models include differentiation into sensory neurons, finances and resources available for large enough clinical trials, and result variability. The workshop will discuss target discovery and validation for neurodegenerative diseases using iPSC-derived models and discussing models focused on neural cells and astrocytes, and try to address the challenges currently involved with the use of iPSC models for neuroinflammation.

  • Understanding machine learning and in vitro approaches to aid target discovery and validation, with a focus on neuron cells and astrocyte-based iPSC models for neuroinflammation
  • Unpicking the differences in neurodegenerative diseases using the communication of iPSC-models into neurodegenerative disease, in order to aid target validation and discovery for inflammation
  • Using findings from clinical trials using iPSC models to provide evidence for the above and aid future drug development for neuroinflammation
Workshop Leaders:
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Thomas Nieland
Director & Head of Target Validation & Exploratory Biology
Verge Genomics

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Yung-Chih (Inge) Cheng
Principal Scientist

Workshop C: Examining the Role of Genetics in Neuroinflammation & Neurodegenerative Disease

Monday, April 18 | 1:30pm - 3:30pm

It is well known that there is a genetic component affecting neurodegenerative diseases. It is imperative we are able to examine which genetics are responsible for neurodegenerative disease, and perhaps which specific disease, so that we are able to develop prevention strategies prior to the onset of these disorders. A prominent challenge in studying the role of genetics in neuroinflammation is attempting to tease them apart from one another in different neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, inability to tease apart genetics leaves the question of whether different neurodegenerative diseases are on separate neural pathways. The discussion will attempt to address these issues and provide potential solutions. Additionally, we will focus on genetics that highlight neuroinflammation as a key driver of neurodegenerative disease and point to targets for therapeutic development. The discussion will also touch on glial cells involved in the pathogenesis of genetic risk loci, and the phylogenetic perspective of inflammation in neurodegeneration and neuropsychiatry.

  • Identifying novel risk genes and mechanisms that uncover the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of specific cell types regarding neuroinflammation across an array of neurodevelopmental diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsons
  • Using phylogenetic factors to segregate inflammaging and chronic inflammation to understand the onset and progression of neurodegeneration and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia
  • This overview of the genetics of neurodegeneration will highlight novel genetic findings related to neuroimmunology, new targets and potential mechanisms, to help pave the way for future for development of therapeutics in this arena
Workshop Leaders:
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Mike Nagle
Head of Neurogenomics

Olivia Corradin
Assistant Professor of Biology

Johannes Grosse
Senior Director of Drug Discovery

Vir Biotechnology

Workshop B: Exploring the Role of the Gut-Brain Axis in Neuroinflammation

Monday, April 18 | 11:00am - 1:00pm

Evidential backing to the effect of the gut on the central nervous system has been increasing over the last few years, with the gut-brain axis now also being pointed at as a factor contributing to neurodegenerative diseases. The gut-brain axis has been found to be related with inflammasome activation, suggesting it may play a role in neuroinflammatory response that lead to and progress neurodegeneration. The mechanisms behind the impact of the microbiome on neural conditions is still poorly understood, and hence research into the gut-brain axis still needs much progressing before it is possible to develop effective therapeutics to address this. The discussion will cover the gut-brain axis is relation to microglia and the microbiome, suggesting potential avenues for therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Using gut-brain axis findings to assess therapeutic development
  • Studying the gut-brain axis to analyse changes in microglia
  • Hacking the microbiome to move forward to development of therapeutics for neurodegenerative disease
Workshop Leaders:
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Nikhil Sharma
Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Workshop D: Delving into the Role of Neuroinflammation in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Monday, April 18 | 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Traumatic Brain Injury has often been left outside of the discussion of neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation, however in recent years it has been closely associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons. Hence, it is highly important that we explore traumatic brain injury as a potential trigger for the onset of neurodegenerative disease following these findings. There are a number of challenges when associating traumatic brain injury with neuroinflammation when presenting it as a causal factor or neural problems, such as injuries being diffuse across brain regions, complicating factors (i.e. heterogenous pathology and symptom). The discussion will attempt to address how to get around these issues to achieve proof of effect. Additionally, in this workshop, we will delve into the links between traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative disorder onset and progression, and looking to novel targets mitigating neuroinflammation for the treatment of traumatic brain injury from immunomodulatory Imide Drugs (IMiD). Additionally, the discussion will touch on implications for neuropsychiatric disorders potentially triggered by traumatic brain injury causing neuroinflammation.

  • Looking at the therapeutic target immunomulatory imide drugs (IMiD) to understand diverse neurological disorders
  • Analysing the new thalidomide analogue, IMD103, as a potential therapeutic candidate to mitigate TBI-induced neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and behavioural impairments
  • Utilizing findings from controlled cortical impact (CCI) model of TBI in rats to understand the above

Workshop Leaders:

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Nigel Greig

Dong Seok Kim
Chief Executive Officer
Aevis Bio

Nigel H. Greig
Chief Drug design & Development
National Institute on Aging, NIH

Lindsay De Biase
Assistant Professor
University of California Los Angeles