Professor of Pharmacology
Calcium entry via voltage-gated calcium channels is a key event in neuronal firing, muscle contraction, gene expression, and secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones. Importantly, voltage-gated calcium channels are the site of action of a number of clinically relevant drugs, termed "calcium channel blockers." Although these drugs are used to treat cardiovascular disorders like high blood pressure, the goal of our research is treat certain forms of pain and epilepsy with novel calcium channel blockers.
The major contribution of the Perez-Reyes laboratory has been on the molecular physiology and pharmacology of voltage-gated calcium channels, and in particular, the cloning of low voltage-activated T-type calcium channels. Their cloning opened many doors on their biophysics, localization, role in neuronal excitability, and pharmacology. This work combined a wide array of techniques such as molecular cloning, electrophysiological recordings of whole cell and single channel currents, and confocal microscopy. For review see: “Molecular physiology of low-voltage-activated T-type calcium channels” Physiol. Rev. 83:117-161, 2003, PMID: 12506128.
Current work in the lab is focused on developing gene therapies for neuropathic pain and temporal lobe epilepsy. In these projects we are leveraging our experience in molecular cloning to develop novel adeno-associated viral (AAV) targeting vectors capable of delivering either short-hairpinned RNAs (shRNAs) or genes of interest. For example, in a project funded by a CURE Challenge Award, we are testing the ability of a modified K+ leak channel to reduce seizures. In a second project recently funded by NINDS, we are testing the ability of an shRNA directed against the sodium channel beta4 subunit to reduce seizures. Both projects are made possible by collaborations with local epilepsy experts, including Jaideep Kapur, John Williamson, and Edward Bertram, and neurophysiologists, including Manoj Patel. We find these new and unpublished (so far) translational neuroscience projects very exciting and hope they will have a major impact on patient care.
Current lab members:
Iuliia Vitko, Instructor
Deblina Dey, Neuroscience Graduate Student
Deborah L. Perez-Reyes, Visiting Lecturer
Amol Bhandare, Research Assistant
Kyle Sullivan, UVa Undergraduate Student
Former lab members who left in the last few years:
Veit Simon-Eckle, former post-doc now at the University of Tübingen
Alex Shcheglovitov, former Post-doc, now at Stanford University
Joel Baumgart, former Neuroscience Ph.D. Student, now at Weill Cornell Medical College
Ima Arias, former Visiting Ph.D. student, now post-doc at Mexico’s UNAM
Conor Jennings, UVa Undergraduate Student
Everardo Hernández-Plata, Visiting Ph.D. student from UNAM
For a list of scientific contributions search Google Scholar: perez-reyes e
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