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Emma's Current Project

Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-responsive neuron populations contribute to the etiology of diverse human diseases including neuropathic pain. Therapeutic trials involving NGF have demonstrated that targeting this trophic pathway could be a powerful approach. However, the use of NGF as a pharmacological agent may be unfeasible due to an unacceptable side-effect profile. A long-term goal is to develop therapeutics that regulate the actions of NGF, while minimizing potential side-effects. Towards this end, we are developing a cell culture based assay to quantify the effects of novel NGF modifying peptides conjugated to cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). To optimize this assay, we have assessed a panel of candidate CPPs for toxicity profiles, cell penetration efficiency and effects on cell morphology and excitability. We now plan to employ this assay in a high-throughput format to screen candidate NGF pathway modifying aptamers for drug development.

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