Parkinson's disease in a dish

Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Lachlan Thompson
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Jennifer Hollands

Summary Our laboratory is interested in the idea that stem cells can repair the damaged brain. There are two broad strategies we are pursuing. The first is neural transplantation. It is an approach that has had some success clinically for Parkinson’s disease and involves the transplantation of new neurons directly into the patient’s brain in order to functionally compensate for those lost to the disease. We are continuing to explore and optimise this as a therapeutic option not only for Parkinson’s disease but also for other neurological conditions such as stroke and motor neuron disease. The second strategy is based on the idea that the brain retains some capacity for ‘self-repair’ through neurogenesis. Part of our research program seeks to characterise the brain’s own capacity to generate new neurons in response to injury and to manipulate this response in favour of therapeutic outcomes

Project Details

Stem cells are seen as a promising resource for regeneration of the central nervous system in order to treat various neurological conditions. There are now routine procedures for generating a wide variety of different neuronal subtypes relevant to specific diseases. For example, spinal motor neurons for motor neuron disease of dopamine neurons for Parkinson's disease. Another valuable and, often overlooked application for these stem cell derived neurons is as in vitro models of human disease. This project will seek to establish a reliable in vitro model of the dopamine neuronal dysfunction and cell loss that occurs in Parkinson's disease.  The techniques involved will include: pluripotent human stem cell growth and differentiation; immunocytochemistry; flow cytometry; advanced microscopy. Establishment of the model will provide a platform for further studies in the area of drug discovery for a suitable candidate.

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