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Research into PSP

Research being carried out in the group of Dr Diane Hanger aims to investigate the link between tau phosphorylation and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Previous work carried out by Diane Hanger used mass spectrometry to identify the sites of phosphorylation on PHF-tau extracted from the post-mortem brain tissue of Alzheimers disease patients. There is substantial evidence to suggest that the sites of tau phosphorylation in PSP are different to the sites found on tau in Alzheimers disease, and work is being carried out in Dr Hanger's group to confirm this. A protocol for the purification of tau from the post-mortem brain tissue of PSP patients is currently being optimised, and once this is fully developed PSP-tau shall be subjected to analysis by mass spectrometry. This will allow the sites of phosphorylation to be identified, and this data can be compared with established data for Alzheimers disease tau to determine which phosphorylation sites are unique in PSP. The differences in tau phosphorylation in PSP and Alzheimers disease may allow us to elucidate the molecular mechanisms upstream of phosphorylation, such as the kinases involved, and thus will allow us to understand how these two diseases and other tauopathies progress at a molecular level.

This work is being carried out by Selina Wray as a PhD studentship funded by the PSP (Europe) association and the Medical Research Council and is being carried out in collaboration with Professor Tamas Revesz and Dr Janice Holton at the Institute of Neurology, UCL.

We are indebted to all patients and their families who have donated brain tissue, without which none of this work would be possible.

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Research into PSP