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Contribution of Translational Animal Models to the Systems Biology of Neurodegenerative Disorders

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Aging is a crucial hazard for the augmentation of various neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) leading to cognitive impairment and dementia. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are marked by gradual loss of nerve cells to their structure and ability to function. ...

Aging is a crucial hazard for the augmentation of various neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) leading to cognitive impairment and dementia. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are marked by gradual loss of nerve cells to their structure and ability to function. The degeneration of neurons can occur in response to cellular injuries, aging, stress, cerebral ischemia resulting from stroke, cardiac arrest, and certain genetic mutation. Furthermore, these diseases are among the greatest challenges for the field of medicine due to their cost, predominance, intricate pathology, and absence of mechanism-based treatments with problems not only for the individuals, but also for the caregivers and the society. For instance, the most common neurodegenerative disorder, AD, is anticipated to be a serious threat to humans if preventive or curative measures are not introduced. In 2016, over five million Americans of all ages were living with AD, and this number will triple to 13.8 million by 2050 in the USA.

To date, there is no available cure for NDs due to lack of understanding of the dynamic interactions within the whole body at the cellular level between the pathophysiological mechanisms explaining the NDs. Such lack of knowledge leads to shortage of proper diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. These are the bottlenecks and challenges in neurodegenerative disorders that need to be resolved. Modeling of physiological processes in these human diseases via system biology at the cellular, molecular and genetic level is essential for understanding the complex pathophysiology of NDs and drug development.

System biology is based on comprehensive study of complex molecular diversity and regulatory networks that can eventually decipher and characterize individual living systems. However, using terminal human tissues alone is not possible to identify casual mechanisms and pathophysiology in NDs, not mentioning system biology studies in humans. Therefore, various animal models, such as rat, mouse, nematode, and fruit fly, have been widely used for investigating the mechanistic links to neurodegenerative processes and searching for drugs with therapeutic potential against NDs. In order to model the neurological and neuropathological analogy of neurodegeneration as it occurs in humans, similar neuropathological conditions must be recapitulated in these organisms. Considering the evolutionary conserved genetic, molecular and cellular changes underlying brain functions within these other organisms and humans, the study on these various organisms will help us understand the underlying pathophysiological changes of human disorders.

This Research Topic focuses on the contributions of analytical and computational models inspired by the various translational in vivo animal systems for the understanding of NDs. We are especially interested in contributions that connect experimental work with analytical and computational mathematical models, although the scope of the RT will not be limited to utilizing such methods. We particularly welcome manuscripts using in vivo models for experimental studies on individual system components and/or interactive systems to model and predict pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies (drugs and vaccines development) for NDs. The individual biological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders include, but are not limited to neurogenetics, epigenetics, plasticity, glial cell biology and neuroimmunity. We encourage manuscript submissions on a wide variety of basic and clinical studies as Review, Mini-review, Perspective, Opinion, Original Research, Methods, or General Commentary article.



Keywords: animal, model, personalized, Translational, Neurodegeneration


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