University of Kentucky College of Medicine researchers are refining novel technologies to study the genes that are active, or expressed, in the central nervous system (CNS).
This work is being supported by two $800,000 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Identifying genes that are at work in the brain will lead to a much greater understanding of neurological and mental diseases and disorders. Many diseases of the nervous system (including mental illnesses, dementias and addictive disorders) are known, or thought, to result from genetic factors. Research findings from these projects will be crucial to understanding, detecting, preventing and treating diseases such as Alzheimer's, depression or schizophrenia.
Currently, it is a painstaking process to determine which genes are active and what the functions of those genes are, particularly in the nervous system. These research projects aim to speed up this process.
The UK College of Medicine research projects are detecting either proteins or messenger RNA, the products of active genes, to determine the identity and function of the active genes in neurons, or map the genes to specific nerve cells. Technical advances made by the research teams will accelerate the mapping process by detecting products of multiple genes at the same time.
Department of Pharmacology
One of the UK College of Medicine research teams is led by Philip Landfield, Ph.D., professor and chair, and includes Kuey-Chu Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor, Olivier Thibault, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Eric Blalock, Ph.D., senior research associate, all of the Department of Pharmacology, UK College of Medicine, and James Herman, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, UK College of Medicine.
For the past five years, Landfield's team has been working with rodent brain sections prepared using a novel method. The researchers take a very thin section, containing a
Contact: Maureen McArthur
University of Kentucky Medical Center