Combinatorial use of markers to isolate synaptic glia to generate synapses in a dish for high-throughput and high-content drug discovery and testing

­Platform for in vitro Analysis of Synaptic Glia and Neuromuscular Synapses

 
Overview
Novel in vitro technology to isolate and analyze the glial cells that form neuromuscular synapses will make it easier to discover and test drugs for conditions that affect peripheral nerves and skeletal muscles, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophy, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
 
Market Opportunity
The synaptic glia (also called perisynaptic Schwann cells) are critical components of neuromuscular junctions—the synapses between the motor neurons, which allow the brain to regulate movement, and muscle. Before researchers can study and manipulate synaptic glia, they must have the molecular tools to identify, isolate, and visualize them. 
 
Innovation and Meaningful Advantages
Novel technology uses two protein markers uniquely expressed in synaptic glia to label these glia. The glia can be isolated to reconstruct a synapse and/or neuromuscular junction in vitro. An important practical advantage is that high-throughput/high-content data can be produced by laboratory staff without highly specialized skills. 

Commercial Development: Current State and Next Steps
The technology will be used to visualize and isolate synaptic glia associated with the neuromuscular synapse. Potentially, the isolated synaptic glia can be co-cultured with neurons and muscle cells to generate synapses, for faster, lower-cost drug discovery and testing. The technology could also be used to detect agents that cause glia to stop proliferating and differentiating into synaptic glia, enabling the discovery and testing of drugs to treat Schwannomas and glial cancers such as glioblastoma. 

Collaboration Opportunity
Seeking collaborations with biopharma partners interested in drug discovery and development for neurological conditions.

Principal Investigator
Gregorio Valdez, PhD
Associate Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Brown University
gregorio_valdez@brown.edu

IP Information
2021-11-11 US20210349078A1; published.

Publication
Taetzsch T, Brayman VL, Valdez G. FGF binding proteins (FGFBPs): Modulators of FGF signaling in the developing, adult, and stressed nervous system. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease. 2018 Sept; 1864(9): 2983-2991.
 

 

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
tech-innovations@brown.edu
401-863-7499
Inventors:
Gregorio Valdez
Keywords:
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