Motor and Non-Motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease
We use operant tests as well as hand tests to assess motor and non-motor deficits in animal models of Parkinson's disease. We are currently using several well established behavioural paradigms (5-choice reaction time task, Lateralised choice reaction time task, delayed alternation, progressive ratio) in rat Skinner and 9-hole operant chambers. We are assessing the effects of 6-OHDA lesions as well as over-expression of alpha-synuclein on behavioural performance to provide better models for therapeutic interventions like pharmacotherapy, neuroprotection, as well as cell replacement therapy.
Brain behaviour relationships
We are using electrochemical detection methods (Amperometry and Chronoamperometry) to measure the dopamine-release kinetics in freely-moving and anaesthetised rats. In combination with technologies that allow for the selective and reversible manipulation of cell activity (i.e. optogenetics and chemogenetics) in genetically defined cell populations we have started to study causal relationships between neurotransmitter release and behaviour. By measuring dopamine release from freely moving animals we can couple the results form behavioural studies to investigate changes in dopamine that are dynamilcally related to the behaviour.
Cell replacement therapy
With our past and present collaborators we assess the function of neural stem cell transplants, whether they are derived from rat primary fetal tissue or human embryonic ste cells or generated through iPS cell technology. Here we are mainly interested in the functions a graft can recover and how this recovery is achieved. We have used several methods from rabies-based tracing to electrochemical detection to investigate connectivity and function of dopaminergic transplants.
A/Prof. Gerard O'Keeffe (University College Cork)
Together with Dr. O'Keeffe we investigate neurotrophic factors as a potential therapeutic target in our recently developed AAV vector overexpression model of Parkinson's disease.
A/Prof. Frederic Manfredsson (Translational Neuroscience & Molecular Medicine, Michigan State University)
The Manfredsson laboratory and BNL teamed up to perform a behavioural characterisation of novel AAV-vector constructs.
Prof. Ronald Melki (Institut des Neuroscience Paris-Saclay)
In collaboration with the Melki/Bousset laboratory we assess the effects of preformed fibrils on aggravating the pathology induced by AAV-vector overexpression of human alpha-synuclein for the generation and behavioural phenotyping of novel preclinical rodent models of Parkinson's disease.
Prof. Anne E. Rosser and Dr. Claire Kelly (Brain Repair Group, Cardiff University)
In collaboration with the Brain Repair Group in Cardiff, UK we develop and validate the "neonatal densensitisation" model, which allows for long-term xenograft survival without the need of pharmacological immune-suppression.
A/Prof. Tomas Björklund (Molecular Neuromodulation Group, Lund University)
We work closely with the Molecular Neuromodulation group who develops the viral vectors we use in our research. The main research overlap is the assessment of novel viral vectors to overexpress alpha-synuclein for the modelling of Parkinson's disease as well as optogenetic and chemogentics receptors to manipulate cell activity.
A/Prof. Lachlan Thompson (Neurogenesis and Neural Transplantation Laboratory, Melbourne University)
In collaboration with the group of Dr Thompson we work on human ES cell grafts and aim to study their dopamine release in freely-moving animals.
Prof. Greg Gerhardt (Kentucky University, KY, USA)
Professor Gerhardt and his team are assisting us in the implementation of electrochemical detection methods for anaesthetised and freely-moving animals.