Exploring the dynamics of neuroprotection and neurorepair
Here at the the Luo Lab, we focus on investigating the key genes and pathways that determine the survival of neurons in neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke. In addition, our lab focuses on understanding the role of neural progenitor cells and reactive astrocytes that acquire stem cell properties during recovery following brain injury. The long-term goal of our research is to identify key molecular pathways and pharmacological molecules that promote neuroprotection (early intervention) or enhance neuroregeneration (late intervention). By utilizing a combination of both inducible cell-type specific and activity-dependent gene deletion animal models along with pharmacological manipulations, we have identified several key molecules that are critical for neuronal survival and neurorepair.
To what extent can the brain naturally repair itself following injury, and what signals regulate this process?
After experiencing a significant amount of damage during injuries such as stroke, the brain makes a valiant effort to repair itself by increasing the proliferation of newborn neurons within its neurogenic niches. However, the majority of these cells die before they are capable of fully maturing and connecting into the surrounding nervous system. We are currently exploring what cells and signals regulate this process to better understand the limits of endogenous repair.
What can we do to increase the survival and proliferation of newborn and transplanted neurons in neurodegenerative brains?
Through genetic and pharmacological inhibition of the signals described above, we are finding new ways to promote the survival and proliferation of neurons in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Our long term goal is to develop effective therapies that help slow down or reverse the damage caused by stroke, Parkinson's Disease, and traumatic brain injury.
University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine
Department of Molecular Genetics
231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267