Developing an In Vitro 3D Tissue Model for Studying Alzheimer’s Disease


Project Description

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease where patients gradually lose their memory and cognitive skills due to the death and degeneration of neurons. Neurons are the cells responsible for transmitting information inside the brain through electrical charges and neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that flow across the synapses between each neuron. The main features of Alzheimer’s disease is described to be the formation of abnormal structures called beta amyloid plaques (formed outside of the cells) and neurofibrillary tangles (formed inside the cells). These plaques and tangles damage the interior and structure of neurons, causing their destruction and demise. 2D cultures are commonly used in a wide range of in vitro research studies, however, they do not resemble in vivo conditions, where cells would live and interact within a complex three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment. For this reason, 3D cultures were developed, so that they can provide a close representation or simulations of tissues in the living organism. Considering the mentioned approaches, we propose to develop a 3D model to generate the main two pathophysiological features of Alzheimer’s disease –plaques and tangles. The project aims to set a standard model to form plaques and tangles efficiently, and be able to target the aggregation of beta amyloids and tau proteins to prevent further aggregation in the future.​​​
Program - Computer Science
Division - Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Visual Computing Center
Field of Study - ​Alzheimer’s, amyloids, disease model, neurodegenerative diseases

About the

Charlotte A. E. Hauser

Professor, Bioengineering <br/>Chair, Bioengineering Program

Charlotte A. E. Hauser
Professor Hauser’s research interests align at the interfaces between chemistry, biomedicine, bioengineering and nanotechnology. Focus is on the development of platform technologies, using smart nanomaterials for regenerative, biomedical and environmental applications.

Her interest refers to the rational molecular design, synthesis and mechanistic understanding of novel supramolecular structures. Investigated systems include peptide-based nanostructures with an innate propensity to self-assemble to biomimetic architectures applicable for biomedical applications such as cell substrates, sensors and 3D tissue scaffolds for regenerative medicine. Bottom-up nanofabrication is a powerful tool for the development of functional tissue equivalents, organotypic tissues and devices. Moreover, these biomimetic supramolecular constructs will be used for the design and fabrication of novel organ-on-a-chip devices and disease models.

Furthermore, Professor Hauser is interested in 3D bioprinting, using supramolecular organotypic constructs to fabricate high-throughput platforms for drug screening, pathogen detection and other diagnostic purposes. Synthetic biology approaches are explored for the generation of functional biomaterial.

Desired Project Deliverables

​Developing in vitro assays such as Thioflavin assay to follow up on plaque and tangle formation (Hauser), using selected short amyloid peptides to demonstrate amyloid formation (Hauser), study amyloidogenesis (Hauser,Michels), molecular dynamic computational simulations (Michels)