MOLECULAR AND TRANSLATIONAL
Our Laboratory makes a concerted effort to develop a strong understanding of the developing nervous system AND human tissue samples as a means to understand human neurological disease and develop novel treatments. These are currently the areas of focus.
TRANSLATING TROPHIC FACTORS IN DEVELOPMENT TO TREATMENT OF DISEASE
We have worked to understand the early molecular events regulating the formation of synapses and axo-glial junctions in the developing nervous system. Our analysis centers on how soluble regulatory factors such as the neuregulins and neurotrophins work together with neuronal activity to orchestrate developmen t. Many studies underway are examining how neuregulins themselves are regulated during development through regulation of their transcription, post-translational processing and association with the evolving extracellular matrix.
One of our missions is to take principles learned from early development and apply these toward understanding and treating human diseases including ALS, where have discovered an important link between environmental triggers and genetics. We have further developed a new way to target pharmaceuticals to specific regions in the body and have developed and are commercializing fusion protein drugs that use this technology that we plan to advance to clinical trials. In addition to ALS, diseases of interest include Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Cancer
BRAIN STONES AND WATER SOFTENERS
Another major focus of our group is to decode what makes focal regions of human brain epileptic. We have taken a SYSTEMS BIOLOGY and functional genomic approach using novel experimental and bioinformatic technologies to map genes, proteins, and small molecule expression patterns to the electrical abnormalities in human epileptic tissues removed during epilepsy surgery. We have found similarities between focal epileptic regions and normal mechanisms that enhance learning and memory paving the way for the identification of new therapeutic targets in human epilepsy.
Bioengineering collaborations have led to new approaches to map epileptic spikes and seizures, new imaging biomarkers, and new therapeutic ap proaches using animal models of epilepsy with long term video EEG recordings. Through this program, we have developed a collaborative project called the ‘Systems Biology of Epilepsy Project’ now housed in the University of Illinois NeuroRepository to bring together a wide range of physiological, molecular (genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic), and clinical aspects of human epilepsy into a centralized database. This project has led to the development of a larger, University-wide project to create novel, far-reaching data systems that link a wide variety of clinical and scientific data together focusing on the human brain.
BIG DATA OF THE HUMAN BRAIN – SYSTEMS BIOLOGY OF HUMAN EPILEPSY AND DEVELOPMENT OF NOVEL TREATMENTS
Dr. Loeb has pioneered the clinical use of bone drugs called bisphosphonates to treat brain disorders which have abnormal calcifications. These diseases share common clinical features depending on where the calcifications are and include Parkinsonian, Epileptic, Migraines, and Behavioral symptoms. This interest has led Dr. Loeb to examine clinical and treatment development for diseases ranging from Fahr’s, Sturge Weber, Tuberous Sclerosis, and Neurocysticercosis. Research progress include natural history of disease and drug development.