University of Aberdeen
We want to understand how appropriate nerve-muscle connections are made and maintained. We use live nerve imaging, electrical recording, pharmacology and molecular biological techniques to examine how chemical release from motor nerve endings is maintained during changes in use during development, day-to-day activity and disease. We use a range of animal models, including for motor neurone disease. We are particularly interested in understanding the natural (endogenous) feedback systems present and how they help to sustain nerve-muscle chemical signalling. We aim to target these systems to enhance nerve-muscle signalling during disease. For MND/ALS, this will help sick motor neurones function better for longer, improving patient quality of life. Even when motor neurone death can be halted, these approaches could restore the lost functions that prompt people to report for treatment in the first place. In related work, we want to know how nerve endings report muscle movements, and how the strength of this signalling is regulated. Similar stretch-sensitive nerve endings report blood pressure and may be a suitable target for treating hypertension, the world’s biggest mortality risk factor. This is carried out in collaboration with Dr Robert Banks of Durham University.
Full profile: www.abdn.ac.uk/ims/profiles/g.s.bewick