The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences PhD student George Edwards III had published a first-authored paper, Traumatic brain injury induces tau aggregation and spreading, in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Edwards is affiliated with the Program in Neuroscience. His advisors are Claudio Soto, PhD, and Ines Moreno-Gonzalez, PhD.
“Publishing this work as a first-author is an essential milestone,” said Edwards. “It displays my capability and experience as a researcher and writer; moreover, it is important for advancing my research career in neurodegenerative diseases — especially for such a complex and multi-factorial disease as Alzheimer’s disease.”
In this work, Edwards and his colleagues evaluated whether moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can trigger the initial formation, and further development, of pathological tau throughout the brain. The misfolding and aggregation of tau protein into neurofibrillary tangles is the main underlying hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been suggested as a risk factor for tauopathies by triggering disease onset and facilitating its progression.
For this research, tau transgenic mice were subjected to TBI and assessed for tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation pattern to create a spatial heat map of tau deposition and spreading in the brain. The results suggest that brain-injured tau transgenic mice have an accelerated tau pathology in different brain regions that increases over time. Overall, this work posits TBI as a risk factor for tauopathies through the induction of tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation.
This published work also received a best poster award at the 2019 Texas Alzheimer’s Research Care and Consortium in Austin.
In June 2019, Edwards III published a review, Modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease, in the journal of Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and recently had an accepted book chapter focused on early diagnostic approaches for Alzheimer’s disease in Recent Research in Alzheimer’s Disease.
In 2017, Edwards received an NIH F31 Fellowship for his project titled The effect of traumatic brain injury on tau pathology by a potential seeding mechanism.