Paul asks Dave about the work he does at the Centre of Regeneration at the University of Edinburgh.
Paul: So what work do you do on remyelination?
Dr Dave Lyons, Researcher: Okay, so we’re interested in the fundamental biology of the glial cells that make myelin in the central nervous system. These cells are called oligodendrocytes, so we want to know how these cells make myelin during normal nervous system development and during repair and how they interact with the axons that they myelinate. So we use little tropical zebra fish in our lab as our animal model, and we use those for several reasons; their genetics and their cell behaviours are very similar to ours, also they have very, very tiny and transparent embryos which means we can look into the animal and really see things like myelination happening in real time. Furthermore, we use these for chemical discovery screens, so for example – I’ve brought a prop here – we can place individual zebra fish larvae, so they really are this small, they can each one sit in a different well here and we can test drug one, drug two, drug three and so on to see how this affects myelin formation over the course of a few days, it happens very quickly in the zebra fish and we can see it happen so we can see how drugs affect myelination.
Paul: That’s fantastic. And can you think of any technological advancements that could help speed up that analysis process?
Dr Dave Lyons: Yeah, so that’s a great question. So we’ve recently acquired funds to get an automated system actually, that will pick up an individual fish out of a well like this, bring it to a microscope, automatically orient it in the view we want to see, say we want to look from the side, it will always do that, and it will do that systematically one after the other and take high resolution images that we can then analyse, you know, the morning after when we’ve screened many hundreds of fish in this way.
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Dr David Lyons received his PhD from from University College London in 2003. Dr Lyons has been with the centre for neuroregeneration since 2009 through a BBSRC fellowship. Dr Lyons received a Research Prize from the Lister institute in 2012 and a senior research fellowship from the welcome trust in 2014.