Terrence Town

Professor, Physiology and Biophysics

Terrence   Town

Research Overview

The Town lab joined the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute on May 1, 2013. My lab’s focus is to develop a treatment for Alzheimer's disease by targeting the body’s immune system. Most therapies targeting the disease are thwarted by the blood-brain barrier, a natural mechanism that protects brain cells from entry of peripheral substances, and by the fact that immune responses in the brain are typically muted. However, in laboratory mice programmed to develop Alzheimer's-like disease, my group has shown that certain immune cells can be coaxed into the brain from the circulation, where they attack the damaging sticky plaque buildup that is a defining feature of Alzheimer's disease.

My lab is continuing to pursue this line of research in hopes of developing a next-generation drug for Alzheimer's disease. This work, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer's Association, and the American Federation for Aging Research, has been published in numerous high-impact peer-reviewed journals including Science, Nature Neuroscience, Immunity, PNAS, and The Journal of Neuroscience. Of the over 100 research papers that we have published, half have been related to Alzheimer's disease.

Earlier this year, my lab revolutionized the field of Alzheimer’s disease research by generating the first rat model of the disease that manifests all of the clinico-pathological hallmarks of the human syndrome. Specifically, we made transgenic rats that over-express two mutant human transgenes that are each independently causative of familial early-onset Alzheimer’s disease: “Swedish” mutant amyloid precursor protein and deltaE9 mutant presenilin-1. Unlike their transgenic mouse cousins that develop ‘senile’ plaques but fail to manifest ‘tangles’ and frank neuronal loss, these transgenic rats-for the first time-develop the full spectrum of Alzheimer pathologies. This makes them an invaluable tool for understanding Alzheimer’s disease etiology and for testing cutting-edge therapeutics pre-clinically.

Contact Information

Mailing Address 1501 San Pablo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Office Location ZNI 337
Office Phone (323) 442-2492
Lab Location ZNI 321
Lab Phone (323) 442-4801
Office Location ZNI 337

Selected Publications