Bhupinder Vohra, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Kurukshetra University (India)
Research Specialty: Neurodegeneration & Neuronal Development
New treatments for neurodegenerative diseases are a major unmet medical need, with the numbers of affected individuals (already tens of millions worldwide) projected to dramatically increase with the aging population. Axons degenerate in a range of neurological ailments including mechanical injury, chemotherapy-induced axonopathy, hereditary neuropathies, glaucoma, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson. The wealth of data from disease models strongly supports the idea that axonal degeneration is an initiating event in many neurodegenerative diseases. Why is axon degeneration a common element of a diverse set of neurological disorders? A favorite hypothesis is that a wide range of neuronal insults triggers a general axonal self-destruction program. Much like apoptosis, AxD appears to be an intrinsic process that is naturally primed and waiting for a triggering stimulus that then activates the execution phase. It proceeds as a stepwise process that appears to begin with microtubule destabilization, followed by rapid blebbing of the axonal membrane, cytoskeletal degradation, axonal fragmentation and eventual engulfment by glial and/or phagocytic cells. A general molecular pathway leading from initial insult to effectors of axonal breakdown has remained elusive. It is the goal of my research to understand the mechanism of axon degeneration process. As prevention of axonopathy could be an important step forward in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, it is hoped that this information will allow us to manipulate this pathway for therapeutic benefit.