MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ilse S. Pienaar
Honorary Lecturer in Neuroscience at Imperial College London
(& Snr. Lecturer in Cellular Pathology, Northumbria University)
Centre for Neuroinflammation & Neurodegeneration
Division of Brain Sciences Faculty of Medicine
Imperial College London
Hammersmith Hospital Campus
London United Kingdom
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Pienaar: A highly heterogeneous brainstem structure, the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) has been deemed a promising target for the delivery of deep-brain stimulation (DBS), to alleviate aspects of Parkinson’s disease (PD), especially gait and postural instability. However, optimal therapeutic targeting of the PPN has been hampered due to DBS being unable to discriminate between cell types being targeted. We optomised a novel technique, Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) in a rat model of PD, by which to target only the PPN cholinergic neurons. A series of behavioral tests revealed that selective stimulation of the PPN cholinergics completely reverses gait problems and postural instability in the PD rats.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Pienaar: Selective targeting of neuronal types within deep-brain stimulation targets in patients diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease may become a possibility within the next 5-10 years. This study illustrates the potential of this approach for alleviating specific symptoms of the disease.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Pienaar: Other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s has shown potential to benefit from deep-brain stimulation intervention also. DREADD technology can be used to dissect out the relative contribution made by select subpopulations of neurons in vulnerable brain structures towards not only the disease phenotype, but to reverse disease symptoms, following a targeted therapeutic approach.
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Dr. Ilse S. Pienaar (2015). Selective Targeting Can Improve Deep Brain Stimulation For Parkinson’s