The genetic programs that control the differentiation of distinct types of neurons in the brain are still largely unknown. In our lab we address this issue in the cerebral cortex. Our main interest lies in investigating the mechanisms that govern the development of distinct subtypes of neurons of the neocortex, and in developing approaches to aid neuronal regeneration in the context of neurodegenerative and traumatic disease of the cortical output circuitry.
Among the different classes of cortical neurons, we are primarily interested in the signals that induce differentiation and regeneration of corticospinal motor neurons (CSMN), a clinically relevant neuronal population that in humans selectively degenerates in ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) and Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), and is permanently injured in spinal cord injury (SCI).
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