UNE research team publishes in leading neuroscience journal

Nociceptive neurons in a fruit fly larva
Nociceptive neurons in a fruit fly larva. The entire body wall of the animal is tiled with the rectangular dendritic arbors of nociceptive neurons. In this animal, DNA encoding the jellyfish-derived red fluorescent protein TdTomato was inserted into the fly genome in such a way that it is expressed only in the nociceptive neurons. This image of a live fly larva was taken by Taylor Follansbee, B.S. '13, M.S. '15 using a confocal laser-scanning microscope.

Professor of Biology Geoffrey Ganter, Ph.D., and his research team at the University of New England published an original research paper in the top-rated Journal of Neuroscience.

Ganter’s team of UNE undergraduate and graduate students discovered a group of components that pain-perceiving neurons use to elevate their sensitivity after injury. When the researchers blocked these components genetically, injury-triggered pain sensitization was nearly abolished. These components may therefore represent targets for novel medications for the treatment of abnormal pain, including chronic pain, in humans.

The paper’s authors include UNE alumni and current students. The lead author of the study, Taylor Follansbee, B.S. ‘13, M.S. ’15 is now a Ph.D. student studying neuroscience at the University of California, Davis. Kayla Gjelsvik, B.S. ‘15, M.S. ‘16 is currently a research assistant at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine. Courtney Brann, B.S. ’16 is a graduate student in UNE’s Master’s of Biological Sciences program. Aidan McParland, B.S. ‘15, M.S. ‘16 is currently a medical student at the University of Toronto in Canada. Colin Longhurst, B.S. ’15 went on to receive a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he is now a biostatistician.

The injury-induced sensitization paradigm was developed in Michael Galko’s laboratory at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The study was supported by a National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence grant awarded to Ian Meng, and a National Institutes of Health Academic Research Excellence Award to Ganter.

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To learn more about UNE’s Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, visit: www.une.edu/research/cen

To learn more about UNE’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence for the Study of pain and Sensory Function, visit www.une.edu/research/cobre

To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions

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