Scientists are working to speed up drug development to deal with brain diseases


Though 40 million concussions are recorded each year, no effective treatment exists for them or for many other brain-related health problems.

In cooperation with Dragan Maric of the National Institutes of Health, Badri Roysam, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Teacher and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his team are working to accelerate drug advancement to treat brain illness and injuries like concussion by developing brand-new tools.

“We have an interest in mapping and profiling unhealthy and drug-treated brain tissue in extraordinary information to reveal several biological procedures at once – in context,” stated Roysam about his latest paper published in Nature Communications. “This needs the ability to tape high-resolution pictures of brain tissue covering an extensive panel of molecular biomarkers, over a large spatial degree, e.g., whole-brain slices, and automated ability to create quantitative readouts of biomarker expression for all cells.”

At the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Maric developed the innovative imaging technique that can be easily executed for prevalent usage with the prospective to transform brain studies requiring extensive cellular profiling from single and serial pieces of brain tissue.

Roysam’s lab established the computational image analysis approaches based on deep neural networks. Roysam’s system analyzes the images on the UH supercomputer automatically and can expose numerous processes at once – the brain injury, results of the drug being checked and the possible negative effects of the drug.

Compared to existing screening techniques, utilizing iterative immunostaining and computational analysis, our approaches are more flexible, scalable and effective, enabling multiplex imaging and computational analysis of as much as 10 – 100 various biomarkers of interest at the same time using direct or indirect IHC immunostaining protocols.”

Badri Roysam, Teacher and Chair of Electrical and Computer System Engineering, University of Houston

The brand-new toolkit uses duplicated cycles of enhanced 10-plex immunostaining with 10-color epifluorescence imaging to accumulate highly enriched image datasets from private whole-brain pieces, from which seamless signal-corrected mosaics are rebuilded and examined.

This gives way for more quick drug advancement. “We present a direct method that produces readouts for an extensive panel of biomarkers from serial whole-brain pieces, defining all significant brain cell types, at scales varying from subcellular compartments, specific cells, local multi-cellular specific niches, to whole-brain regions from each piece,” stated Roysam.

The open-source toolkit method is also versatile to other tissues. Its advancement can accelerate systems-oriented studies by offering quantitative profiles of all the molecular and cellular gamers simultaneously, in their detailed spatial context.

“We are efficiently conquering the fluorescence signal limitations and accomplishing extremely enriched and top quality source imagery for reputable automatic scoring at scale. Our goal is to accelerate system-level studies of typical and pathological brains, and pre-clinical drug studies by enabling targeted and off-target drug results to be profiled at the same time, in context, at the cellular scale,” stated Roysam.