Hybrid Imaging Using PET and fMRI to Study Brain Functional Connectivity
The mammalian brain is the most complex organ in our entire body and composed of very diverse types of cells. Neurons, the primary units, communicate with each other via very specialized connections and are organized in neuronal circuits and networks. The characterization of neuronal circuits is of great interest for neuroscientists and the ability to modulate circuit nodes and temporally control neuronal function with optogenetic tools has revolutionized neuroscience research. In our studies we apply several stimulation techniques from pharmacological to optogenetic stimulations to study the impact on brain functional, metabolic and molecular connectivity in the healthy and pathological rodent brain.
Quantitative Functional and Molecular Brain Imaging in Animal Models of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s disease are devastating neurological disorders of the central nervous system and the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. Recent advances in multimodal molecular imaging allow a deeper insight into the pathophysiological cascade during the disease process. However, there is still a paucity of knowledge about the underlying mechanisms and the key drivers behind the disease. Here we develop novel tools for molecular imaging that help to solve these key questions and can ultimately be used translationally from bench-to-bedside.
Imaging In Vivo CRISPR/Cas9 Neuronal Gene Editing in the Adult Rat Brain
The latest advances in genome engineering methodologies based on the CRISPR-associated RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 have enabled researchers to interrogate the mammalian DNA in a very precise and simple manner. However, the role of many genes and epigenetic mechanisms in human diseases are not yet fully understood. By combining cutting edge genome engineering and in vivo imaging technologies, my goal is to better understand how genes are involved in the regulation of specific functions in the brain. High resolution PET and MRI are used in these experiments to perform in vivo studies on a molecular level of the functional relationship between receptors, transporters and neurotransmitters in small laboratory animals in a highly sensitive and fully quantitative manner.
PET Radiotracer Development in Brain Neurodegenerative Diseases
Deposition of misfolded proteins in the brain is a major hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases. However, for several diseases, target-specific PET tracers are still missing despite intensive research. In collaboration with the radiopharmacy we develop PET tracers for an early detection of misfolded proteins in neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s disease using in vitro and in vivo screening approaches on recombinant fibrils, rodent disease models and human tissue.
We receive funding from:
Prof. Dr. Kristina Herfert