Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 5 – 2010

Yanmin Yang, Neurology
Lei Xing, Radiation Oncology

Disruption of axonal transport characterizes the earliest recognizable defects in a range of neurodegenerative diseases of both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Finding new technology to advance the precision by which axonal transport can be measured in-vitro has been a focus of our research. Ultimately, the development of non-invasive methods for measuring axonal transport in-vivo would allow for investigation into the progression of neurodegeneration as well as open the door for investigating the efficiency of therapeutic strategies in model systems. Presently such a system does not exist, but through the collaborative efforts put forth in this IIP we are attempting to overcome this obstacle. Phosphornanoparticles (PnP) are tunable fluorescent molecules that can be visualized in living tissue through the use of near-infrared wavelengths. Surface chemistry modifications of PnPs is also possible enabling their conjugation with bio-molecules involved in axon transport. The initial phase of the project is to successfully link trophic factors with a PnP making a functional tool for labeling cells in culture. Once this is accomplished we will then investigate the properties of the PnP-tested molecules using live cultured neurons as proof of concept. We envision this collaborative project will establish the groundwork for a successfully NIH ROI grant application in which we will seek to apply this new technology towards monitoring axonal transport in-vivo.