On 16 September 2021, Charlotte Bakker successfully defended her PhD thesis titled ‘Innovative cholinergic compounds for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction’ at Leiden University!
The human nervous system contains approximately 86 billion neurons. Transmission of signals between neurons occurs either by direct flow of the impulse from one neuron into the other when the neurons are very close to each other, or by neurotransmitters, the body's chemical messengers. There are well over 100 different neurotransmitters, and each neurotransmitter targets specific receptors, resulting in specific effects. The neurons that are activated by or contain and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine form the cholinergic system. This system is active in both the central nervous system and in the peripheral nervous system. Altered levels of acetylcholine or damaged cholinergic receptors have been described in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and Lewy bodies disease, indicating a need for innovative cholinergic compounds.
In her thesis, Charlotte focuses on early phase clinical drug studies related to new cholinergic drugs that are being developed for cognitive dysfunction. Furthermore, she discusses biomarkers to be used to demonstrate pharmacodynamic effects and the improved characterization of selective pharmacological challenge models.
Charlotte was supervised by promotores Prof. dr. Geert Jan Groeneveld and Prof. dr. Joop van Gerven.