New Northwestern center targets brain disorders

combining molecular biology and gene discovery with the pragmatism of engineering in order to solve this problem and others."

The second potential therapy is based on the discovery by Moskal and colleagues of a family of molecules called glyxins that appear to enhance learning and memory. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the glyxins for human phase I trials.

"The glyxins also may have an impact on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, memory loss associated with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease as well as normal aging, damage due to stroke, and neuropathic pain," said Moskal. He has collaborated for years with John Disterhoft, professor of physiology at Feinberg, in evaluating the compounds.

Recently, another long-time collaborator, Jaak Panksepp, an emeritus professor in the psychology department at Bowling Green State University, joined the Falk Center as head of its affective neuroscience research program.

The Falk Center puts state-of-the-art gene chip technology -- the same used to discover the glyxins and the brain tumor therapy -- into the hands of Northwestern faculty and students. This technology, used to identify gene targets for new therapeutics, is more often found in the private sector than in universities.

"Very few universities in the country have direct access to gene chip technology of this caliber," said Roger Kroes, chief of molecular neuro-oncology at Falk and assistant research professor of biomedical engineering. "In the Chicago area, only a handful of programs in academia and the private sector combined have facilities equivalent to the Falk Center's."

Moskal and his staff build their own microarrays from scratch and are continually evolving the technology. Now they can train faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and visiting scholars to build customized gene chips for their own discoveries. Moskal and his staff already have taught a class in advanced mo

Contact: Megan Fellman
Northwestern University

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