30 April 2014

Neurocare funds cutting edge microscope to advance SITraN research


A key piece of equipment for SITraN has been generously funded by the Sheffield based charity Neurocare and is now being installed at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN).

“Thanks to the state-of-the-art image capture and analysis system we will be able to produce high quality images and accelerate our research into neurodegenerative diseases,” predicts researcher Dr Julie Simpson. “We are delighted and very grateful for the funding provided by Neurocare for the new microscope which will make a big difference to our work.”

Due to SITraN’s success and the increase in the number of researchers who need microscope access on a daily basis, the new microscope was urgently needed, explains Dr Simpson. The new equipment will add to the existing, over 10-year-old imaging system and will add increased functionality and state-of-the art computer-aided analysis to produce high quality, quantifiable data needed to stand up to the rigorous requirements of today’s research.

Moreover, the equipment will be invaluable for the training of the next generation of neuroscience researchers. “We are very proud to be able to fund the new equipment which has the potential to make a major impact on the visibility of neurodegenerative diseases in the UK.

We are delighted to be able to support this type of research at SITraN which can potentially bring new treatments and new hope to patients and carers,” says Corin McCann, Senior Fundraiser at Neurocare.

Imaging and Analysis equipment is central to the work of the neuropathology researchers at SITraN who use the microscope for studies into ageing, dementia and neurodegenerative diseases like Motor Neuron Disease (MND), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A main part of the neuropathology work led by Professors Paul Ince and Stephen Wharton at SITraN consists of the microscopic analysis of human brain sections, as well as animal tissues.

By comparing healthy and diseased samples, the scientists gain crucial information as to how the diseases develop, manifest and progress. This allows a detailed characterisation of the damage and changes occurring in the brain of patients who suffer from these diseases.

Moreover, SITraN researchers use the microscope to analyse proteins which are potentially important in disease processes and visualise them in zebrafish. In this animal model system expression and localisation patterns of potentially disease causing proteins can be analysed by attaching fluorescent tags to such proteins followed by microscopic analysis.

Zebra fish are ideal models for MND researchers. They have transparent embryos in which the developing neurons can be visualised and observed under a microscope. They allow researchers to better understand the causes of the disease, specifically to learn what happens before

symptoms appear and how to stop the disease from progressing. “We are immensely thankful to Neurocare for supporting our research with this essential equipment,” says SITraN’s director Professor Dame Pamela Shaw. “We know that having the new microscope will be invaluable in progressing the under

standing of the mechanisms of Motor Neurone Disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease and advancing the development of new therapies for these devastating conditions.”