The Human Brain Disease Modelling research group aims to develop more physiologically relevant human-based models for studies of neurological diseases’ cellular and molecular mechanisms and the prediction of drug transport into the brain. We utilize patient-derived brain cells in 2D and 3D culture systems, including cerebral/midbrain organoids, to more accurately mimic the diseased brain’s pathological conditions. We are especially interested in the glial non-cell-autonomous mechanisms and their contribution to neurodegeneration. We use breakthrough single-cell and imaging technologies combined with bioinformatics to reveal the mechanisms and identify key therapeutic targets and pathways responsible for pathological glial phenotype. For drug transport studies, we employ custom-designed chips by Finnadvance. The system uses microfluidics and 3D cell culture and simulate thus the in vivo microenvironment with blood flow. Apart from using this model for testing novel drugs and biomolecules like extracellular vesicles to penetrate the BBB, we are also interested in using these models to uncover the molecular and transport mechanisms that regulate BBB permeability in physiological and pathological conditions.
Ph.D. (pharmacology) Katrina Räty is working in the Human Brain Disease Modelling Research Group (Lehtonen Lab) at the A.I. Virtanen Institute at the University of Eastern Finland. The research group focuses on revealing the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases, especially Parkinson’s disease.
7.6.2022 KUOPIO BRAIN & MIND
Katrina Räty, PhD, originally from Canada, returned to Finland to continue her career as a researcher, now with a grant from the YUFE Postdoctoral Programme. It happened by coincidence, as she learned about the YUFE postdoc position from a PhD student whom she is co-supervising. The criteria for the position were clear and straightforward, and she also got detailed feedback on the scientific part of her application from external reviewers.
1.6.2022 EDUCATION AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
Syksyn apurahahaun kautta myönnettiin rahoitusta 129 tutkimukselle ja ratkaisulle, jotka rakentavat lasten, nuorten ja vanhusten hyvinvointia sekä ennaltaehkäisevät tai ratkaisevat ongelmia. Apurahoina jaettiin yhteensä 2,3 miljoonaa euroa. Itä-Suomen yliopistossa apurahoja saivat mm. FaT Šárka Lehtonen, Metabolic profiling of human microglia from LRRK2 Parkinson’s disease patients, 15 000 eur ja FM Tuuli-Maria Sonninen, Human cell-based model for blood-brain barrier, 15 000 eur.
14.1.2021 HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Sigrid Jusélius Foundation has granted a senior researcher post to Docent Šárka Lehtonen from the University of Eastern Finland. Her lab develops novel human-based models to study the mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases.
20.1.2021 HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
A new study using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology links astrocyte dysfunction to Parkinson’s disease (PD) pathology. The study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland and published in Scientific Reports highlights the role of brain astrocyte cells in PD pathology and the potential of iPSC-derived cells in disease modelling and drug discovery.
7.9.2020 HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation has granted significant funding to two research projects at the University of Eastern Finland. Docent Šárka Lehtonen investigates the role of brain astrocytes and microglia in Parkinson’s disease.
5.10.2020 HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
The neurobiological pathophysiology of schizophrenia differs significantly between males and females, according to a new study. The findings suggest a possible need for more sex-specific treatments for schizophrenia. The study was the first to identify a number of sex-specific genes related to schizophrenia using neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. The results were published in Nature Communications.
2.9.2019 HEALTH AND WELL-BEING