Spurred by promising clinical findings, Taylor Family Institute preclinical investigators are developing and characterizing novel molecular tools, mouse models, and receptor sites to study how neurosteroids, typified by the endogenous neurosteroid, allopregnanolone, modulate the function of neurons and brain circuits. These tools include tagged neurosteroids that retain biological activity but allow cellular and biochemical characterization.
Mice that allow pharmacological isolation of various receptor population allow unprecedented scrutiny of drug actions. These studies offer the promise of treatments of increasing selectivity and reduced side effects.
Another potential agent we’re developing involves a class of chemical messengers that are related to cholesterol, an essential component of the membranes of neurons and of the insulation coating the electrical ‘wires’ of the nervous system.
Called oxysterols, these cholesterol relatives are being investigated for their potential to enhance cognitive function (for instance in aging or dementia) or for use as antipsychotic drugs.
Collaborators at Sage Therapeutics have active programs in testing GABA receptor modulators and NMDA receptor modulators, in partnership with several academic centers.
Additional ongoing academic studies include
- Early emotional development in children
- High risk adolescents
- Genetics of schizophrenia
- Neuroinflammation, oxysterols and neuropsychiatric disease
- Protein binding sites and biophysical actions of neurosteroids and oxysterols
- Structure-activity relationships of neurosteroids and oxysterols