The research goal of Jing Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., is to study the pathogenic pathways of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, Dr. Zhao focuses on the contributions of apolipoprotein E (APOE) and APOE receptors in Alzheimer's disease. Her research aims to determine how APOE isoforms and related receptors influence the pathological progression of Alzheimer's disease using biochemical and molecular approaches through different disease models. Dr. Zhao is using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells as a novel model to investigate the disease pathogenesis and explore potential for stem cell therapy to treat Alzheimer's disease.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for Alzheimer's disease study. Recent advances in the generation of iPSCs provide unique opportunity to study complex human disease pathogenesis in specialized human cells. Furthermore, iPSCs are generated using somatic cells from individual patients; they can be used for stem cell therapy with lower risks of rejection reactions. Dr. Zhao is using patient-derived iPSCs as a tool to study the mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. She's also exploring the potential of iPSCs as a novel treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
- Apolipoprotein E (APOE) and heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in Alzheimer's disease. The accumulation of neurotoxic amyloid-beta in the brain is a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans are abundant cell surface receptors that colocalize with amyloid plaques. HSPGs also function as APOE receptors expressed in diverse brain cell types. Dr. Zhao studies the role of the APOE-HSPGs axis in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis utilizing cutting-edge techniques in the areas of molecular biology.
Significance to patient care
In today's aging society, an increasing number of patients have neurodegenerative diseases, which impose social problems and worldwide economic loss. Dr. Zhao's research provides better understanding of the molecular mechanisms in the disease pathogenesis and will yeild novel targets to develop effective therapeutic interventions for these diseases.