Diseases characterized by the progressive deterioration of the structure and function of the central nervous system or the peripheral nervous system fall into the category of neurodegeneration. Although the global prevalence of many neurodegenerative diseases is on the rise, both scientific and clinical detection is often limited and restorative treatments nonexistent. To assist scientific and clinical communities in developing a more in depth understanding of the mechanism and pathology of neurodegeneration as well as development of treatments, improvements in experimental 3D model systems and molecular imaging techniques are critical by allowing high throughput screening for validity of action and toxicities. Visikol is a contract research organization that is specialized in developing these drug discovery tools and offering them as a service to its Clients through its deep expertise in advanced tissue imaging, digital pathology and 3D cell culture.
Progressive deterioration of neurons underlies highly prevalent neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s). Structural damage to the neurons and their synaptic pathways leads to loss of function translating into a host of clinical impairments, often leading to death. Neurodegenerative diseases are a heterogeneous group of disorders. The loss of memory, reasoning and thinking resulting in an inability to independently perform everyday tasks is the widely recognized feature of dementia, of which the most common form is Alzheimer disease. Progressive muscle weakness characterizes the neuromuscular disorders that result from effected motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord with the rest body as occurs in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. While clinical symptoms of disease can be distinct, the critical overlap is the lack of development of therapies that do more than lessen symptoms, but that combat the pathophysiology and restore functionality to improve patient’s quality of life. To help support the development of therapeutic treatments for these diseases, Visikol has developed a suite of imaging and cell culture assays such as the two highlighted below.
Cell Culture Neuroscience Models
Important for drug discovery in neurodegenerative diseases, Visikol utilizes a 3D blood brain barrier system to provides efficacy and safety data for drug discovery. The blood brain barrier is an important factor in efficiency of new therapies. This highly selective membrane separating the circulatory system from the central nervous system must be accessed successfully and at a therapeutic level by a new treatment, such as nanoparticles or antibodies constructs, in order to reach their intended targets within the brain. This blood brain barrier assay furthermore exposes any unintended effects on blood brain barrier integrity related to the delivery of a new therapeutic.
3D Tissue Imaging with Tissue Clearing
Visikol has been a leader in the clarification of tissues to enable high level structural visualization of 3D cellular systems and deep tissue sections, even whole mouse brains. Critical for successful immunolabeling of dense neuronal samples is the permeabilization of tissues such that antibodies can achieve uniform labeling of target epitopes. Pairing the patented Visikol® HISTO™ tissue clearing approach with multiplex fluorescent immunolabeling specific for central nervous system markers including: NeuroTrace Green, GFAP, VGlut1, NeuN, Synapsin I; and by utilizing confocal microscopy, Visikol can provide its Clients with highly relevant data for neurodegenerative research. Visikol uses this technology platform to assist its Clients with a broad range of research questions such as evaluating inflammation, viral transfection efficacy and quantifying structural phenotypes and how they are affected by disease progression and therapeutic treatment. These fluorescent markers have been validated through the development of a Visikol HISTO labeling protocol of key markers for neuronal organoids (microBrain 3D models by Stemonix®) and for whole mouse brains: both are key systems for investigating drug discovery.
If you are interested in discussing your research project and how Visikol might be able to help, reach out to us today. Visikol is committed to advancing science, combating disease, and supporting drug discovery by developing specialized Client focused assays and imaging approaches.