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

MJFF approached Iacovitti with the idea of using a similar strategy to create a genetically engineered rat model. Why rats? The rat brain is bigger, and therefore easier to study smaller brain structures. Additionally, rats have behavioral and physiological features that are similar to humans as compared to mice, and are ideally suited to study diseases with complex physiological and behavioral symptoms. For example, researchers can mimic Parkinson's in rats by eliminating dopamine neurons selectively with a certain toxin.

To create this rat model, MJFF, Jefferson and Taconic entered into an unprecedented agreement. Though it owns the intellectual property on the hTH-GFP recombinant DNA construct, Jefferson provided this construct to MJFF for creating the hTH-GFP rat. Using this construct, Taconic generated five founder lines of the model and shipped rats to Iacovitti for characterization to determine which of these lines produced GFP in the correct location in the brain. Taconic will breed and distribute the model at the same cost to academic and industry researchers, without an upfront license fee and at a reasonable price set by MJFF.

Visualization of fluorescent dopamine-producing neurons provides data on anatomical localization, making it possible to isolate PD-vulnerable dopamine neurons from neighboring PD-resistant dopamine neurons. In addition, scientists can now identify and separate live (GFP-expressing) dopamine-producing neurons for laboratory culture studies. This was impossible using previous methods and is invaluable for understanding the function of dopamine-producing cells and how they may be affected in Parkinson's disease.

"Taconic has a long history of providing scientists with easy access to research models. Given that tradition, we are proud to work with The Michael J. Fox Foundation and Thomas Jefferson University to help speed laboratory discoveries that could lead to better treatment for Parkinson's disease," said '/>"/>

SOURCE The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; Taconic; Thomas Jefferson University
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