SARKA LEHTONEN

Senior Researcher

I lead the Human Brain Disease Modelling research lab at the A.I.Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences where I work as a Sigrid Jusélius Senior Research Fellow.


My focus in recent years has been to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases, especially Parkinson`s disease, schizophrenia and psychopathy. We use patient-derived brain cells in 2D and 3D culture systems to mimic the pathological conditions in the diseased brain more accurately. We also center our efforts on discovering new drug targets and biomarkers for the studied diseases. As the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the ability of drugs to cross the BBB and reach the correct target is critical when designing drugs for neurological diseases, our third aim is to establish a simple model that mimics the physiological architecture and the barrier properties of the BBB. Once created, the ability of novel drugs and biomolecules like extracellular vesicles to penetrate the BBB can be tested. The model can also be used to understand the molecular and transport mechanisms that regulate BBB permeability in physiological and pathological conditions. Gained knowledge and novel discoveries will open in the future new opportunities for therapeutic developments.

Contact info

Organization

Faculty of Health Sciences, A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences

Email

sarka.lehtonen@uef.fi

Phone

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Keywords

Teaching Activities

TEACHING DUTIES Regenerative medicine (coordinator, lecturer) Functional Genetics of Brain Diseases (lecturer) Basic Mechanism of Nervous System (lecturer) at the University of Helsinki Farmakologian perusmenetelmät (demonstration) SUPERVISIONS PhD students Tuuli-Maria Sonninen Jonna Niskanen Elina Pörsti (under co-supervision with Jari Koistinaho) Marja Koskuvi (under co-supervision with Jari Koistinaho) Ilkka Fagerlund (under co-supervision with Tarja Malm) Ying Chieh Wu (under co-supervision with Jari Koistinaho) MSc students Sanni Peltonen Nelli-Noora Välimäki Sara Kälvälä ERASMUS student Keren Fraissard

Research groups and research projects

RESEARCH PROJECTS AND POSTS Sigrid Jusélius Säätiö-Senior researcher post 04/2021-03/2024 Project: Microglia-driven pathology in Parkinson’s Disease Janne ja Aatos Erkon Säätiö. 01/2021-12/2023 Project: Molecular crosstalk between astrocytes and microglia in Parkinson’s Disease Sigrid Jusélius Säätiö-grant for your group leaders 05/2020-04/2023 Project: The role of glial cells in Parkinson’s Disease Business Finland, EAKR hanke 12/2019-05/2021 Project title: Go for growth with novel stem cell platforms Business Finland, Co-innovation, consortium project 11/2019-12/2022 Project title: Extracellular vesicle ecosystem for the development of theranostic platforms University of Eastern Finland, Proof of Concept 04/2019-12/2019 Project title: Patient-derived blood-brain barrier platform The Olav Thon Foundation, 09/2017-08/2021 Project title: Brain Aquaporins: Novel Therapeutic Targets for Parkinson’s Disease

RESEARCH GROUPS - UEF

Links

Publications