Anthony West telling me about his exciting work.
Parkinson's disease is another devastating neurodegenerative condition that is under extensive investigation and always has a substantial poster area during the annual meeting. NeuroProof presented an interesting poster (#419.20) on an in vitro model of the disease. As a hallmark of Parkinson's disease, dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra undergo degeneration. Models in animals have produced a dearth of information on the possible mechanisms for this action but, to date no treatments are available to block or reverse this phenomenon. Additionally, in the event a putative treatment is discovered, the throughput required to evaluate this in a preclinical setting would be necessarily high. However, this would likely be a great challenge (as well as expensive) to evaluate compounds of interest in vivo especially in an academic lab. Using a primary co-culture of neurons and glia placed onto a multielectrode array, neurons were impaired with MPP and rescued with GDNF. What was interesting about this to me, except the obvious large-scale compound testing that could be done with this technology, a variety of electrophysiological outputs were produced from these cultures. This allowed for the rapid visualization of neuronal physiology in a dish and could be an excellent tool for investigators attempting to identify treatments for Parkinson's disease.