Gene Transfer, Stem Cells, and the Role of Proteins in Neurodegeneration
The UF Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration is investigating two different strategies to alleviate behavioral deficits in rat and monkey models of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Mandel and his lab are pursuing both direct intrastriatal transmitter replacement (L-dopa delivery) and neurotrophic support strategies (GDNF delivery) in the unilateral 6-OHDA lesion model of PD using recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors (rAAV). This group has pioneered these approaches and are currently working on therapeutic strategies. Additionally Dr.’s Steinder and Reynolds are world-class stem cell researchers working in Parkinson’s disease and DBS, and Dr. Nick McFarland has been working on protein processing.
New Laboratory at UF Dedicated to Curing DYT-1 Dystonia
Dr. Yuquing Li is one of the leading researchers in the world in dystonia and he and his laboratory in collaboration with Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure have set out to cure the disease. Dr. Li is currently the most funded NIH researcher in this area in the United States and his work is cutting edge.
Pathological Mechanisms of Parkinsonism
Dr. Nick McFarland and his team focus on understanding the pathological mechanisms of Parkinson disease and related disorders (atypical parkinsonisms or Parkinson-plus disorders) and in particular the role of alpha-synuclein in cell toxicity and neurodegeneration. A major hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson disease, is abnormal protein aggregation and deposition. In Parkinson disease and related disorders, intracellular inclusions called Lewy bodies are found. A principal component of these Lewy bodies is alpha-synuclein. Abnormal folding, aggregation, and deposition of alpha-synuclein are believed to be central to the development of neuronal dysfunction and degeneration.