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Funded Studies

High Throughput Drug Screening for Protection Against DA Neuron Degeneration

We are utilizing a small worm called, C. elegans to develop a method to examine a large number of drugs that may protect against the type of cell death that occurs in Parkinson's disease (PD). The worm's nervous system is very similar to that of humans, therefore any drugs we discover using this system to inhibit Parkinson's-like cell death in the worm will likely have significant relevance to preventing the analogous types of cell death that occur in humans with PD. We have previously shown that toxins that are used in other animal models to mimic PD-like cell death can be reproduced in this worm. Because of its small size, ease of growth and transparency, and our development of a C. elegans animal that contains fluorescent cells of the type that die in PD, we can rapidly examine a large number of living animals to test the ability of the drugs to protect against the PD-associated cell death. Furthermore, genetic analysis of these worms will allow us to quickly identify those genes that may be involved in the drug-induced protection. Finally, the ability of the identified drugs to protect against cell death can be examined in worms that have been genetically altered to contain known PD-causing human genes to determine whether these drugs can protect against the effects of these genes.


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