Parkinson’s-on-Chip Model (PoCM) is an Academy of Finland project for developing an in vitro model for Parkinson’s Disease (PD). PD is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) and the second most common neurodegenerative disease without absolute cure. Disease has progressive effects on patient’s CNS, which gradually influence the life quality negatively. One of the most known pathological features of PD is the accumulation of misfolded assemblies of specific protein, α–synuclein (AS). Normally, AS is mainly located in the synapses participating in synaptic transmission by binding to synaptic vesicles. In pathological case AS start misfolding and accumulating. Accumulation of pathologic AS leads to reduction of synaptic proteins, progressive impairments in neuronal excitability, synaptic activity and network connectivity, and eventually, neuronal death. For this reason, it is very important to reveal the early disease markers both for diagnostics and novel therapeutics during pathological AS accumulation and propagation.
We are building an on-chip model to enable functional evaluation of the neuronal cells cultured on microfluidics structures. Morover, model allows to make a detailed electrophysiological interpretation of in vitro neuronal behavior during pathological AS accumulation and propagation. With the model, both axonal and neuronal network level (dys)functionality are monitored and temporally defined in relation to the disease progression. Such information is used to investigate potential electrophysiological markers for the early stage and subsequent propagation of the pathology.