Friday, 2 September 2016

ZNstress: A new high-throughput drug screening assay for identifying novel motor neuron disease drugs

I work at the University of Sheffield in Dr Tennore Ramesh’s group based at SITraN. We focus on using zebrafish to model motor neuron disease (MND) and have generated models for many different mutations including SOD1, C9orf72 and TDP-43. My particular focus has been on developing drug screening techniques that use these fish to identify new drugs that treat MND.

Zebrafish are a great tool for investigating neurodegenerative diseases and performing drug screening due to their small size, large numbers, transparency, rapid development and their genetic makeup, which is remarkably close to humans. All these pros allow large drugs screens with 1000’s of drugs to be screened rapidly, something not possible before in animal models of MND.

In our most recent paper we report that we have used the sod1 zebrafish model to screen over 2000 drugs, with the ability to screen 100’s each week. Within this 2000 drugs we tested many drugs from past clinical trials in MND and show that like in the human trials they fail to show efficacy in the zebrafish model. The only drug that showed efficacy was Riluzole, the current MND treatment. We believe that this highlights the true power of using the zebrafish as a drug screening model for MND and we are now working hard to analyse the other 2000 drugs, as well as screening further libraries. We are hoping in the very near future we will have some exciting new potential therapies to talk about that may help towards a cure for MND.

Dr Alex McGown

 To read more about my work :full article

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