Annakaisa Haapasalo Group (Molecular Neurodegeneration)

Our research focus lies in the genetic background and molecular mechanisms underpinning neurodegenerative diseases, especially frontotemporal dementia (FTD). To this end, we utilize a variety of in vitro and in vivo model systems and patient-derived cells, clinical samples and data. We are especially interested in the function and dysfunction of neuronal synapses, cell metabolism, cellular degradation mechanisms, such as autophagy and proteasomes, as well as glial cells that mediate neuroinflammation.

We aim to identify new molecular targets and pathways, which partake in neurodegeneration and underlie the clinical manifestations of FTD. Our goal is to decipher specific mechanisms how and why these targets affect the pathogenic events taking place in FTD at the molecular level in different types of brain cells and how they are linked to the clinical features of the patients. We are especially interested in FTD associated with the C9orf72 repeat expansion, as it is the major genetic cause of FTD in Finland. The knowledge gained in our studies is expected to aid in the future development of new biomarkers or therapeutic strategies for FTD.