Laboratory of Neuroglycobiology and Sensation

Investigating interactions between primary afferents, glia and their cell-surface carbohydrate expression in the development and perpetuation of sensory dysfunction associated nerve injury.

Cells

Neuropathic pain associated with nerve injury is notoriously resistant to currently available forms of therapy.

The Laboratory of Neuroglycobiology and Sensation uses a model of nerve injury to investigate the damage-induced sensory dysfunctions commonly experienced in human neuropathic pain conditions and relates this dysfunction to changes in feedback between neurons in the peripheral nervous system and glial cells the spinal cord and their cell-surface carbohydrate expression. Alterations in cell-surface glycoconjugate expression and changes in neuronal and glial activation are assessed using lectin- and immuno- histochemistry followed by fluorescence microscopy. Images are captured for analysis and examined against behavioural data.

Our current research is assessing the efficacy of targeted cell death as a novel treatment for the sensory dysfunctions associated with nerve injury. This involves taking advantage of the unique cell-surface carbohydrates expressed by primary afferents to selectively target and kill the population of primary afferents in the periphery that are responsible for the transmission of pain.

The rationale behind targeted cell death as a pain management strategy is that ablation of the peripheral neurons involved in the transmission and maintenance of sensory dysfunction will give insight into some of the specific mechanisms underlying chronic pain and may ultimately equate to novel and more effective pain therapies.