Targeting Sleep Deficits to Restore Memory Function in Alzheimer's Disease

Moustafa Algamal, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital


Ksenia Kastanenka, PhD


We aim to improve memory function in Alzheimer's disease by improving sleep quality. This will be achieved by activating a specific group of neurons whose activity is impaired in Alzheimer's disease. A particular period during sleep that is termed slow-wave sleep is associated with memory performance and is also disrupted in Alzheimer's disease. Scientific evidence suggests that a specific group of neurons are responsible for slow-wave sleep regulation. This project aims to improve the function of these neurons through two different approaches. The first approach will utilize a novel technology to activate these neurons, followed by assessing memory in Alzheimer's disease animal models. The second approach will rely on pharmacological approaches to support the function of these neurons. 

Project Details

We use state-of-the-art technology such as optogenetics which allows us to control neuronal activity using light. In addition, we also use multiphoton microscopy to image the brain in action in living animals. Our study has two foreseeable benefits to the public. First, it will increase our understanding of the role of sleep in Alzheimer's disease and, therefore, will lead and direct future research efforts in the field. Second, our experiments can potentially lead to a discovery of a successful therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease.