UNM Rainforest Innovations

Nora Perrone-Bizzozero, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Neurosciences
Health Sciences
The University of New Mexico

Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero has disclosed two inventions and received one UNM-affiliated issued U. S. patent for her central nervous system (CNS) protein technology.

Mental illness has a profound effect on public health, but psychiatry has had difficulty developing biological tests to diagnose, monitor and evaluate treatment for these and other brain disorders.  Researchers are interested in correlating levels of certain CNS proteins with specific brain pathologies and different stages of illness and using the proteins as biomarkers and trackers for brain pathophysiology, especially in the areas of synaptogenesis and synaptic vesicle release.  Neurotransmitter release is, however, a complicated process involving many different proteins, one of which is SNAP-25.  Altered levels of this particular protein appear to be important in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, clinical depression, and other major brain disorders.

Dr.  Perrone-Bizzozero’s CNS protein technology is a method for the detection and measurement of trace amounts of brain protein SNAP-25 in human cerebral spinal and amniotic fluid, especially low-abundance, brain-specific proteins. Cerebral spinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal through standard clinical lumbar puncture, or amniotic fluid is obtained in the usual clinical manner.  The method reliably identifies SNAP-25 proteins and allows for clinical comparison of normal and ill subjects for abnormal protein concentrations.  The SNAP-25 protein biomarker could provide significant information that is useful in diagnosing and monitoring brain disorders and diseases and in evaluating treatment effectiveness.

Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero’s research focuses on studying the post-transcriptional control of neuronal gene expression during normal nervous system development and in neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly in animal models of prenatal alcohol exposure. She is interested in defining how prenatal alcohol exposure affects the levels of GAP-43, BDNF and the RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) that affect their expression, both during development and adult mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. She is also studying the genetic contributions to brain imaging alterations in patients with schizophrenia and children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  More recently, she has begun to examine the role of RBPs and miRNAs in the context of cocaine addiction, a new research initiative funded by National Institute on Drug Addiction.


6,132,977 Measurement of a CNS Protein in Cerebrospinal and Amniotic Fluid, issued October 17, 2000

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