Rapid Animal Models of Parkinson's disease

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Gawain McColl gmccoll@unimelb.edu.au
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Ashley Bush

Summary The McColl group is explores brain ageing and the impact it has on neurodegenerative diseases. We use the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to model the biology of ageing and late-life neurobiology. By reducing complexity and time scale, the study of simple organisms can provided a wealth of information about the biochemical systems and fundamental biological processes. Despite the relative simplicity of these animals the conservation of genetic and disease pathways between these nematodes and higher eukaryotes make it an effective in vivo model for study ageing and disease mechanisms.

Project Details

Parkinson's disease is a debilitating disorder, classically characterised by progressive and selective loss of dopaminergic neurons within the Substantia Nigra. By the time a patient presents with motor symptoms 60-70% of the nigral dopaminergic neurons have already been destroyed. Although current pharmacotherapies offer some effectiveness in early stages of disease, these medications offer only symptomatic relief and fail to protect the remaining neurons from eventual degeneration.

Devising therapeutics that address not only the symptoms of Parkinson's disease but also the cause (so called 'disease modifiers') are of vital importance. While mammalian-based Parkinson's disease research is clearly a necessary step, sole reliance on mammalian models limits the rate at which new therapeutics can be identified. More rapid whole animal screening technologies are needed to develop therapeutics. We have identified the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as being highly suited for studying neurodegeneration, genetic interactions and drug mode-of-action. 

The project will explore neuro-restorative compounds in rapid Caenorhabditis elegans models of dopaminergic cell loss, by 1) Characterising newly identified cell death inhibitors in novel animal models of dopaminergic cell loss; and 2) Investigating cell signaling pathways for effects on dopaminergic cell loss and subsequent neuroprotection by compounds.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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