Simon P. Brooks

Cardiff University, United Kingdom

I currently have a research team within the Brain Repair Group in Cardiff University School of Biosciences. My current research programme is designed to longitudinally characterise Huntington's disease (HD) mouse lines at the behavioural, cellular and genetic levels. This detailed characterisation then permits us to determine the age of onset of disease and the relationships between different levels of pathology (genetic, anatomical, behavioural) for each of the mouse lines under investigation. At the highest level of analyses, cross comparisons between the strains and across the different levels of pathology, should permit us to dissect real disease processes from the idiosyncrasies of the individual mouse lines. To date we have characterised 5 mouse lines in this way. The majority of the project is the behavioural assessment of the mouse lines, using established tests, or tests that have been designed and validated in-house as sensitive probes of motor, cognitive (cortico-striatal) or behavioural dysfunction. All of the tests used are sensitive to the underlying pathology of HD, and the development of these tests is a crucial aspect of the research programme. Through this approach we have identified early cognitive and psychiatric deficits in the mouse lines, which are essential when considering intervention points for therapeutic trials. This approach also provides us with information as to which models are best suited to specific therapeutic applications. The smaller of my current grants is an award from the European Huntington’s Disease Network for a pilot study in mice looking at exercise as a possible therapeutic intervention in HD. The study is a parallel study of one being undertaken in patients in Cardiff University, in that the behavioural tests to be used in the mice are the rodent versions of the human tests.

Biography Updated on 2 April 2012

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