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Unique Partnership Lights Up a Parkinson's Disease Research Tool
Date:11/12/2013

NEW YORK, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF), Thomas Jefferson University (Jefferson) and Taconic have collaborated to create, validate and distribute a valuable pre-clinical research tool: a genetically engineered rat with fluorescent dopamine-producing neurons—neurons that are affected in Parkinson's disease.

This unique nonprofit, academic and industry partnership provides easy and open access to this genetically engineered rat model, making it available to all interested researchers at low cost.

"The model of The Michael J. Fox Foundation is to encourage collaboration and support initiatives to help us find a cure for Parkinson's disease," said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. "We are grateful for and invigorated by the willingness of Thomas Jefferson University and Taconic to work with us to break down one of the barriers to accelerating research: the availability of critical research tools."

"Research tools are the building blocks of discovery and, as our capabilities to mimic disease in models grows, we can improve our resources and get closer to finding a cure," said Lorraine Iacovitti, PhD, Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Jefferson's Farber Institute for Neurosciences. "The way MJFF is encouraging collaboration and access in this area of need is commendable."

Visualizing Dopamine-Producing Neurons Using a Green Glow

A hallmark of Parkinson's disease is the loss of dopamine-producing neurons, and methods to visualize (and measure) changes in this neuronal population are needed. Previously, antibody-based technologies were used to quantify dopamine neuron loss. However, these methods are time-consuming and do not permit analysis of living neurons. Iacovitti and her group overcame these limitations by using genetic engineering methods to "mark" dopamin
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SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; Taconic; Thomas Jefferson University
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