Researcher, Douglas Institute
Salah El Mestikawy, PhD, joined the Douglas Institute in 2008 to direct an international research team based both at the Douglas Institute and at the Pierre & Marie Curie University in France (INSERM U952, CNRS UMR7224).
In the brain, neurons use a combination of electrical and chemical signals to communicate with each other. Chemical messengers are also known as neurotransmitters. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. Without glutamate, we would not be able to relate to our immediate surroundings and act accordingly. Glutamate is therefore involved in every side of the nervous system, be it under normal or pathological conditions.
As part of their research work, Salah El Mestikawy and his team have combined different approaches to analyze how the brain works, ranging from the molecular and fundamental functions to the most integrated aspects, such as behaviour and pathology.
The main objective of their work consists in the study of neurons using glutamate as a neurotransmitter in healthy and diseased central nervous systems. Before being released as a result of an electrical stimulus (action potential), glutamate is accumulated into synaptic vesicles by means of three specialized transporters, VGLUT1-3. These transporters are key anatomical and functional markers of glutamatergic neurotransmission. Since 2000, Salah El Mestikawy and his team have contributed to the discovery of these three VGLUTs, and have implemented a number of tools (probes, antiserums, mutant mice) and methods (anatomical, biochemical, and behavioural) to provide for new ways of studying the role of glutamatergic systems in healthy and diseased brains.
Their research work should help not only to increase our basic knowledge of the central nervous system but also to develop new diagnostic and pharmacological tools that target glutamatergic neurons.
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