Quick Project Snapshot

Understanding the natural biology of Aß peptides in human brain

Alzheimer’s disease involves a significant loss of neurons and a resulting loss in cognitive ability. The defining pathological characteristic of the disease is the formation of plaques of aggregate protein in the cortex of the brain.  These plaques are comprised of the Aß peptide and while are the defining feature of the disease, are thought to be a relatively inert end-point to a toxic process that forms soluble oligomers of Aß.  These soluble species are thought to be the “toxic principle” of the disease. We believe that this is too much a simplification of the biology of Aß, and we have an overarching aim of understanding the role of Aß, the distribution of Aß in the milieu of the brain tissue and how the Aß peptide is involved in the disease. We primarily focus on studying facets of Aß biology in human brain tissue, with a view to understanding the behavior of the peptide in vivo.  Projects under this heading involve investigating the Aß distribution in the cellular milieu of human brain tissue, investigating protease levels and determining changes in other proteins related to the disease.  Techniques commonly applied in these projects include brain tissue homogenization, chromatography, HPLC, mass spectrometry, 2D and 1 D SDS PAGE and western blotting.

Dr Blaine Roberts

Neuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics Laboratory

The Neuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics Laboratory focuses on using proteomics to understand Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  The group has a particular interest in understanding the role of metals in biology and has developed new proteomic technologies to measure metalloproteins. Further, this group is using proteomics to characterize new blood borne biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

All Projects by this Lab

Biomarker discovery for Neurodegenerative diseaseUnderstanding the natural biology of Aß peptides in human brainWhat causes a neuron to die? Investigating the essential role of selenium nutrition in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’sBioanalytical tools to investigate the role of metalloproteins in Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease


Scientists in the Neurodegeneration division interrogate how neurones live, die and can be rescued to improve brain function in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Diseases. There is no effective treatment for Motor Neurone Disease and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease is rising alarmingly in our aging community. Gene abnormalities, energy deprivation, toxic rubbish accumulation and inflammation all contribute to a toxic environment for brain cells. Our teams study these events in animal models and cultured cells, with a view to translating knowledge into new therapies for human patients.

All Labs that operate in this Division

Atomic Pathology LaboratoryCreutzfeldt Jakob Disease Clinical Research GroupMolecular Gerontology LaboratoryMotor Neurone Disease LaboratoryNational Dementia Diagnostics LaboratoryNeurochemistry of Metal IonsNeurogenesis and Neural Transplantation LaboratoryNeuropathology and Neurodegeneration LaboratoryNeuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics LaboratoryNeurotherapeutics LaboratoryParkinson's Disease LaboratoryPre-clinical Parkinson’s Disease Research LaboratoryPresynaptic Physiology Stem Cells and Neural Development LaboratorySteroid Neurobiology LaboratorySynaptic Neurobiology LaboratoryThe Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study (AIBL)