David Pow is a researcher in the area of neurosciences
Four main streams of research are conducted in our laboratory; for up to date information see www.powlab.eaats.org: (i) The role of micro-haemorrhage in long term nervous system degenerations, including age related macular degeneration). (ii) The role of amino acid transporters in development, health and disease, particularly in the developing neonatal brain. (iii) The homeostasis of the NMDA receptor co-agonist D-serine, and (iv) neuronal remodelling in the aged and damaged retina.
Our laboratory has recently demonstrated that micro-haemorrhage in the retina of rats gives rise to a delayed neurodegeneration which closely resembles age-related macular degeneration, a common blinding disease in elderly people. This is the first physiological model of this disease and provides a unique opportunity for testing potential therapeutic agents.
The brain uses a number of molecules as excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitters; the majority of these molecules are amino acids such as glutamate or glycine. Some of these molecules, such as glutamate are implicated in the pathogenesis of diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. Research in this laboratory focuses on analysing the distributions and functions of specialised transporters which are responsible for redistributing amino acid neurotransmitters between sites of synthesis and sites of usage. By creating antibodies against transporters such as the glycine transporter (glyt-1) or glutamate transporters, we are able to determine the role of each transporter in normal and pathological neurochemical homeostasis in the brain and in the retina. Current projects include understanding the roles of glutamate, GABA and the taurine transporters in pathological and developing brains, and determining the role of taurine in the adult nervous system.
D-serine is an important molecule in the mammalian brain and we have been investigating the distribution and homeostasis of this molecule using new antibodies that allow its colocalisation with fixation-sensitive antigens such as glutamate transporters and Glial markers such as GFAP. Our recent light and electron microscopic studies show that D-serine is contained in vesicular structures in astrocytes and is also present in subsets of identified glutamatergic neurons (Williams et al., 2006).
Our last research area is in neural remodelling and repair. We have recently demonstrated that adult neurons in the intact human retina are able to reconnect to new targets. We are now characterising this process as a basis for neural repair paradigms.