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

Dominik L. Michels

Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Dominik L. Michels
The overarching goal of Professor Michels' research is enabling accurate and efficient simulations for scientific and visual computing. Towards this goal, he develops new principled computational methods based on solid theoretical foundations and contributes to a broad range of topics covering algorithmics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer graphics and physics-based modeling, differential equations, mathematical modeling, and numerical analysis.

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)