Neuroimmunology and Regenerative Therapy Laboratory

Collaborators
Research Goals
Funding
Techniques used in the laboratory
Personnel
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Lab phone: 402-559-2778


Collaborators

Dr. Yong Zhao


Research Goals

The Laboratory of Neurotoxicology is currently pursuing several investigative routes to elucidate the mechanism involved in HIV-1 Associated Dementia (HAD). These routes include:

While these areas of research seem miles apart, they are actually quite linked. Studies have shown that neurogenesis plays an important role in the adult brain and can be stimulated by neuronal injury, physical exercise or stress.

HIV-infected and activated MP can release viral proteins and neurotoxins, including glutamate, that injure neighboring neurons. Upon injury, neurons release chemokines that recruit more MPs to the site of injury, to repair the injury and promote neurogenesis as well as, rid the site of cellular debris and viral proteins. Infected and activated MP then respond to the signals produced by neurons, releasing more neurotoxins, thereby creating more damage and beginning yet another vicious cycle of injury.

Therefore, by integrating studies of neuroscience, virology, immunology, biochemistry and receptor pharmacology to investigate these areas, the neuropathogenesis of HAD can be fully explored. The mission of our lab is to ultimately develop drugs that will selectively inhibit neurotoxin production and enhance neuronal repair in the brain. These studies will not only answer questions regarding HAD, but also other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.


Funding

Glutaminase and its neurotoxic link to HAND
PI: J. Zheng
Source: NIND/NINDS  R56NS097195
Excess glutamate is known to cause synaptic dysfunctions and neuronal injury in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). We will investigate a novel approach to target glutaminase, which is a primary enzyme for the production of glutamate in the brain, to block excess glutamate production. Inhibition of glutaminase through novel inhibitors may become a novel strategy to prevent neuronal injury in HAND.

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Techniques used in the laboratory

Our laboratory integrates techniques in immunology, neuroscience, virology, receptor pharmacology, molecular biology and biochemistry to study the mechanisms involved in the neuropathogenesis of HIV-1 Associated Disorders (HAD).

Personnel

Yunlong Huang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Yunglong Huang

Zenghan Tong, Ph.D.
Instructor

Zenghan Tong

Yuju Li, Ph.D.
Researcher

Yuju Li Runze Zhao
Graduate Research Assistant
Runze Zhao
Justin Peer
Other hourly worker
Justin Peer    

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