The goal of the NextGen Precision Health Neuroscience Science Seminar is to highlight transdisciplinary precision research taking place in the field, provide opportunities for collaboration among researchers to build their own research efforts and promote clinical/researcher activity across the University of Missouri System and our partners.
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“Neuromuscular active zones in healthy and ALS model mice and the effects of a targeted therapeutic approach”
Presented by: Yomna Badawi, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, Meriney Lab, University of Pittsburgh
Date: March 11, 2024, 4-5 p.m.
Location: Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building/Atkins Family Seminar Room
*Zoom option available
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the progressive deterioration and loss of function of motor neurons leading to paralysis. Studies indicate that neuromuscular junction (NMJ) denervation occurs in the early stages of the disease while neuronal cell bodies in the spinal cord remain intact. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead to NMJ denervation in ALS may identify therapeutic targets to improve neuromuscular function in ALS patients. In this seminar, I will first present the analysis of NMJ active zone organization using stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy in healthy NMJs and describe how key active zone proteins are altered in NMJs of SOD1G93Amice, a rodent model of ALS. Next, I will demonstrate the acute and chronic effects of GV-58, a novel Cav2-specific voltage-gated calcium channel gating modifier that we have developed, on neuromuscular function in SOD1G93Amice. Improving neuromuscular transmission could prove to be a new intervention approach to strengthen neuromuscular function, delay the loss of motor skills and improve the quality of life of ALS patients.
Yomna Badawi, Ph.D., has 15 years of neuropharmacology and translational biology experience in neurodegenerative disorders. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, where she studied mechanisms for promoting ischemic tolerance in the brain. After completing her Ph.D., she transitioned to the field of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with a focus on understanding the mechanisms of the disease and identifying interventions to improve neuromuscular function in ALS. As a postdoctoral fellow in Hiroshi Nishimune’s lab at the University of Kansas-Medical Center, she investigated the effect of applying human mesenchymal stem cells as a treatment in mouse models of ALS. In 2020, she joined the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh as a research faculty member in Stephen Meriney’s group. She is continuing her pre-clinical ALS research in addition to studying other neuromuscular disorders (Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and weakness in aging). Specifically, her research involves evaluating a novel small-molecule approach to enhance the activation of the neuromuscular system. Her goal is to contribute to understanding neuromuscular degeneration and provide new therapeutic approaches.