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Event Details: Neuroscience Lecture Series: Robert E. Burke, M.D. | Reconstruction of the Adult Nigrostriatal Dopaminergic Pathway: A New Approach to the treatment of Parkinson's Disease


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurologic disorder that causes impairment of movement.  Available treatments for PD offer relief of symptoms, but none are able to restore the neural structures that have degenerated.  Neuroscientists have long believed that surviving mature neurons in the brain are incapable of new axon growth.  However, there is emerging evidence that this belief is not true, that surviving neurons may be induced to re-grow axons by re-activation of molecular processes that are active during normal brain development.  Our research explores gene therapy approaches to re-activation of these axon growth processes.  The motor impairments in PD are due to the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons and their axons.  We have investigated the ability of two genes that are active in axon growth during development: a kinase Akt and one of its downstream targets, the GTPase hRheb. We have found that both Akt and hRheb, when expressed in dopamine neurons by use of a viral vector, induce robust new axon growth and achieve partial restoration of function.  At the time of first diagnosis of PD, 70% of the neurons of the substantia nigra still survive.  If they can be induced to re-grow their axons, and re-establish their ability to release dopamine, it may be possible to offer substantial neurorestoration with clinical benefit.  The promise of this approach is that this benefit will be achieved by endogenous dopamine neurons, in their normal locations, with intact connections and with normal regulatory mechanisms in place.

This event is part of the Neuroscience & Education program's Spring 2013 Neuroscience Lecture Series. Some of the most accomplished investigators in neuroscience from top universities in the NYC area will be presenting new developments in their leading-edge research on the frontiers of neuroscience.

Click Here for a full list of speakers and topics

Type: Lectures & Talks

Location: Cowin Center, 147 HM

Date & Time: 2/25/2013, 3:00 PM - 4:45 PM


Contact: Anlys Olivera


Contact's Affiliation: Biobehavioral Sciences