Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Chemical Neuropathology Laboratory


Khalid Iqbal, PhD, Head

The Chemical Neuropathology Laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms of neurofibrillary degeneration and of regeneration of the brain by identifying protein phosphatases and kinases that regulate the phosphorylation of tau and regulation of these enzymes, the identification of various subgroups of Alzheimer disease on the basis of cerebrospinal fluid levels of specific disease markers, the trophic factors involved in the promotion of the dentate gyrus neurogenesis and the differentiation of the neural progenitor cells in mature neurons. These studies involve the identification and validation of therapeutic targets; the development of high-throughput screening assays and of model therapeutic lead compounds; and the identification and validation of molecular markers as outcome measures with which the efficacy of the therapeutic drugs can be measured. Our basic research on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurofibrillary degeneration and of the regeneration of the brain and the development of model therapeutic drugs based on these mechanisms will benefit patients with Down syndrome, Alzheimer disease and related disorders.

We have developed small neurogenic/neurotrophic peptides that enhance learning and memory in normal adult mice. Currently, we are testing these lead therapeutic compounds in a Down syndrome transgenic mouse model, Tg65DN, and in mouse models of Alzheimer-like neurodegeneration. These lead compounds are also being studied for developing therapeutic treatment of autism by identifying the nature of the specific neurotrophic factors in the sera of autistic and age-matched control subjects and studying the reversal of these neurotrophic factor alterations with the neurotrophic peptides.