GMC - Behavioral Screen

Coordinator:    Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wurst
Institution: Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institut für Entwicklungsgenetik

It is our goal to identify, in cooperation with our partners in the NGFN network and beyond,  the genetic and molecular factors causing neuropsychiatric diseases and thus to improve therapeutic possibilities. Through detailed analysis of the disease-relevant behaviours of more than 200 genetic mouse models we have already contributed to the increase of knowledge about a wide spectrum of disorders. Amongst these contributions, neurodegenerative diseases constitute our main focus.
Neuropsychiatric diseases are of a complex nature, and several genes contribute to their development. Many symptoms are not exclusive to one disorder, and various symptoms occur together. Patients with depression display increasingly cardiovascualr and metabolic dysfunctions. Even so the appearance of early symptoms, which are not necessarily associated with the predominant symptoms, may help to reveal the molecular causes of a disease. Only two examples of this work shall be mentioned: we could show that various genetic mouse models of Parkinson’s disease exhibit, beside the expected motor dysfunctions, alterations in their sense of smell, in the cognitive abilities, in anxiety-related behaviour and in their sensation of pain, in various gene dependant forms.
In accurate mouse models (Cln3) of the juvenile form of the devastating diseases neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (JNCL), which is diagnosed around the age of 4 and inadvertently leads to premature death, and of  Huntingtons’ disease, which occurs in midlife and leads to death within 10-15 years, we recognized early sensory and motor deficits. These results shed new light on the early stages of these diseases and may contribute to the development of biomarkers, early diagnosis and improved therapies.

Further Coordinators:
INTRANET (Members login)