Postgraduate research opportunities Is PAR2 activation neuroprotective in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease?


Key facts

  • Opens: Thursday 5 March 2020
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 36 Months


Neuroscience & Mental Health proteinase-activated receptor 2, Alzheimer’s disease, β-amyloid cytokines, major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression
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Applicants should possess or be about to obtain a 1st class or 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as immunology, pharmacology, neuroscience or equivalent. This project is also suitable for fully funded,self funded students and also our PhD Plus Programme.

Receipt of satisfactory references.

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.


THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Dementia is the only one of the top ten causes of death in the UK that has no treatment that can either cure or slow its progress1, with current treatments primarily offering symptomatic relief rather than targeting the disease itself. Our understanding of AD aetiology is an area of intense research2 but drug development has proved difficult. Hence there is a clear need for novel therapeutic strategies and targets and we propose that one such target is proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR2). There is strong evidence that PAR2 plays a protective role in in vitro neurotoxicity assays and in certain CNS disorders3.  Recently novel non-peptidic PAR2 activators with high potency and good stability have been developed and our recent work has revealed that one of these novel agonists, AC2646134, is a good candidate with which to examine the therapeutic potential of PAR2 in CNS disorders as we have shown that it mimics the neuroprotective properties of classical PAR2 activators in in vitro excitotoxicity assays, crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) and results in immunomodulaton similar to that observed in AD resilient patients5.


In this project, we aim to capitalise on our recent novel observations by testing the hypothesis that AC-264613 is protective in a mouse model of AD. Thus the aim of this project is test the this hypothesis using the 5xFAD mouse model of AD6 to examine the following research questions:


  1. Does PAR2 activation reduce β-amyloid load observed in 5xFAD mice?
  1. What cellular and signalling pathway(s) underlie PAR2-induced neuroprotection?
  2. Does immunomodulation plays a key role in PAR2-induced neuroprotection??


Answer to these questions will identify a potential novel therapeutic target for the treatment of AD.


Techniques used:


Behavioural testing of 5xFAD mice, immunohistochemistry, innate and adaptive immune cell assays using FACS analysis, cytokine assays using ELISA and qPCR.

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Funding details

Running costs of £10000 p.a. will be associated with this project in addition to University tuition fees.

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Dr Trevor Bushell

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

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Dr Shuzo Sakata

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

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Contact us

Primary Supervisor: Dr Trevor Bushell