Dr. Agnes Luo
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
Case Western Reserve University, USA
Research in her lab focuses on investigating the key genes/pathways that determines the survival of neurons in neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson?s disease and stroke (Neuroprotection). Her research group also focuses on understanding the role of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and reactive astrocytes that acquire stem cell properties during brain injury recovery (Neuroregeneration). The long-term goal of her research is to identify key molecular pathways and pharmacological molecules that modulate these pathways to promote neuroprotection (early intervention) or enhance neuroregeneration (late intervention). Utilizing combined inducible cell-type specific or activity-dependant gene deletion animal models with pharmacological manipulations of molecular pathways, they have demonstrated that neuronal specific deletion of p53 gene lead to enhanced survival of cortical and hippocampal neurons in stroke model without affecting the process of astrogliasis suggesting a neuronal specific role of p53 gene during pathological events. They also demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of p53 gene days after stroke led to enhanced neurogenesis and survival of newly generated neurons and results in improved functions recovery in stroke animals. They have established multiple transgenic lines that can induce gene modification in forebrain neurons, dopaminergic neurons, NPCs or reactive astrocytes after stroke or DA neurotoxicant challenge and have identified Nurr1, VIP, BMP7, p53, and shh genes as critical molecular pathways in determining neuronal survival and neuronal repair in stroke and PD. They have also identified and validated the efficacy of small molecules (p53 inhibitor:PFT-alpha, APP inhibitor: phenserine, shh agonist: SAG) that regulate these pathways and improve the functional outcome or recovery in animal stroke model and animal PD models.
The Luo Laboratory focuses on developing cell replacement therapy for neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinsons disease (PD), stroke and traumatic brain injury.