Paul asks Dave whether any technical advances have made Centre of Neurodegeneration that accelerates the progress of the work that Dr Lyons does with myelin repair.
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MS Reporter: Paul
MS Expert: Dr Dave Lyons is a researcher at the Centre of Regeneration at University of Edinburgh. He studies cell development in zebrafish to understand how the nervous system works.
Could you tell us whether there are any recent technical advances that have made your work evolve easier in terms of things like imaging or things like that?
No, we’re very excited here at the moment, we’ve got some new toys in the lab that make our life much easier, as it turns out, so that was a very intuitive question. So we, through some funding from a research government organisation, we’ve got a new robot, not quite as exotic as it might sound, but this is a robot that will take fish from the wells of a plate in which they’ve been treated with a drug, for example, automatically bring these fish to a microscope and automatically put them in the orientation that we want to see them. In the past this was terribly cumbersome as we had to do it by hand, we had to take fish out of our well, move them by hand into the orientation we wanted to see. All of this is automated now and I think we can show you some videos online for the community to see. And after the fish are oriented automatically, we hand over control to a microscope that images them at ultra-fast speeds so that we can reconstruct all of the myelinating cells in an animal and then we’ve got, also automated – we still do some work, I promise – but we’ve also automated ways to count cell number in these animals and thereafter be able to test how drug 1, drug 2, drug 3 affected the ability of the animal to make oligodendrocytes. We’re looking for compounds that can promote oligodendrocyte formation to take those through to drug development. So this massively changes our pipeline for drug compound screens and looking for chemicals that promote myelination. So, enjoy the movies as well.