Latest Grants


The July grants allocated include the funding of the following projects which will be carried out at the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Otago. Travel grants totaling $36,437 were also approved.  

Educational travel grants were awarded in addition to the below.  

Elucidating the function of brain immune cells in malignant brain tumours: a novel in vitro approach


Dr Natacha Coppieters Department of Anatomy and Medical Imaging University of Auckland July 2017

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in adults, with an average survival time of 15 months. Specialised brain immune cells called microglia play a key role in controlling tumour growth. Most research so far has been performed using rodent microglia, which differ from human microglia in many important aspects. The aim of this project is to establish a human-cell culture model for studying microglia which will allow us to investigate the role that these immune cells play in the development and control of GBM.

Development of an intranasal therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases


Dr Andrew Munkacsi School of Biological Sciences Victoria University of Wellington July 2017

Drugs known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors show potential to treat many neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, yet these drugs are not efficient at crossing the membrane that covers the brain, the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We propose to administer an HDAC inhibitor (Vorinostat) via the nose to bypass the BBB, and deliver the drug directly to the brain. We will determine whether intranasal treatment inhibits neurodegeneration in a mouse model of Niemann-Pick type C disease, a paediatric neurodegenerative disease currently without treatment. This drug is already approved to treat cancer and positive results could quickly be translated into clinical practice which would provide immediate hope for the affected children as their lifespans are less than the time it takes to develop a new drug.

Modelling early Alzheimer’s disease: cholinergic neurons from induced neuronal progenitors


Dr Marta Tarczyluk-Wells Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology University of Auckland July 2017

This project will develop a human-cell model of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) using reprogramming technology that allows skin cells from Alzheimer’s patients to be transformed into brain stem cells. These stem cells can be turned into a range of brain cells to generate a test tube model of AD. To date most studies have focused on generating cortical brain cells. This project will develop methods of turning brain stem cells into cholinergic brain cells, which are affected in the early stages of AD. This will extend the field by providing a novel system to investigate the initiation, progression and potential treatment of AD.