"Gene chip" technology allows for expression analysis of thousands of genes on a single glass slide, known as microarray. Together with our collaborators we have already assayed 4.2 million data points through >200 microarrays in Parkinson's disease patients and in Parkinson's disease models. We profiled midbrain and blood of patients with Parkinson's disease, and genetically engineered cells, yeast, flies, and mice that carry the human alpha-synuclein transgene linked to familial Parkinson's disease. We hypothesize that global comparison of gene expression changes in Parkinson's disease patients and Parkinson's disease models will identify common genes and pathways mediating neuronal cell death. We will, 1) determine core genes and pathways differentially transcribed in Parkinson's disease patients and all models by cross-model microarray analysis using advanced bioinformatics; 2) genetically validate top-priority candidates in a fruit fly model of Parkinson's disease and with human genetic association studies.
Dr. Scherzer's research focuses on identifying gene expression markers in the brains and blood of people with PD. (He has received multiple MJFF awards to further this work.)
Through the Safra Genetics Consortium, Dr. Scherzer combined several datasets looking at gene expression in human PD brain and blood, as well as in animal and cellular models of PD, to identify common genes that are altered and that could thus provide new understanding of PD cause. Using sophisticated statistical and bioinformatics approaches, he has now identified several cellular pathways that are altered in PD which should help identify possible mechanisms of disease (and, ultimately, potential new targets for therapeutic development).