Dr. Darrell Smith
Neurodegenerative Drug Discovery Lab, Division of Neurodegenerative Disorders
The goal of the lab is to advance the development and screening of agents that could be used to treat neurodegenerative problems, particularly peripheral neuropathies.
There is currently an incomplete understanding of the pathogenesis of most neurodegenerative disorders and there are no treatments able to delay the onset and slow the progression of many of these disorders. The common treatments used for peripheral neuropathies include pain relievers, anti-seizure medications, and antidepressants. These drugs are used to control the discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathies and have no effect on the progression of the neuropathies themselves.
Why is this work important?
Research in the lab is focused on finding compounds which will prevent the onset, reverse the progression, or alleviate the symptoms of peripheral neuropathies.
What techniques and equipment are used in this laboratory?
Dr. Smith’s lab uses primary cell cultures of adult sensory neurons. These cultures are useful for studying the regulation of neuronal survival, axonal regeneration, and cellular bioenergetics of axotomized neurons in the adult setting. An advantage of using cultured neurons from adult animals is that animals with an established disease can be used as a source of culture material. This culturing system is excellent for examining the effectiveness of compounds in repairing and preventing neuropathies in vitro. Screening of compounds is also performed in vivo. Rodent models of Type I and Type II diabetes exhibit very consistent levels of peripheral neuropathy. These models are excellent for examining the ability of compounds to prevent and/or reverse diabetic peripheral neuropathy in vivo.
- In vitro and in vivo modeling
- Animal models of Type I and Type II diabetes
- Primary sensory neuron culture
- Behavioral testing (Hargreaves, von Frey)
- Corneal confocal microscopy
- Fluorescent microscopy
- Western blotting
- Mitochondrial function (using cellular bioenergetics)
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Darrell Smith