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Martin Lévesque's Laboratory

Our research is divided in two main axes: the embryonic development of the dopaminergic system, and the discovery of new therapeutic targets and strategies for Parkinson's disease.

TH staining midbrain.jpg


Dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain play crucial roles in controlling a variety of brain functions, including voluntary movement, mood, reward, attention and stress. Dysfunction or abnormal development of these neurons is at the root of many brain diseases such as schizophrenia, attention disorders and depression. Very little is known about how dopaminergic neurons find their targets during development, and even less about the factors that regulate the guidance of these axons along their pathway. One of the aims of our laboratory is therefore to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the development and maintenance of dopaminergic neuronal circuits.

Our laboratory is also interested in Parkinson's disease, which is mainly characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain. The loss of these neurons leads to a reduction in dopamine levels in the putamen, which is largely responsible for the motor symptoms observed in the disease. Degenerating neurons display intracellular aggregates known as Lewy bodies, composed mainly of the protein alpha-synuclein. In our laboratory, we are working to develop therapeutic approaches for Parkinson's disease. Our projects fall into two broad categories:

  • Gene therapy techniques to express neuroprotective proteins in the brain (recombinant antibodies, CRISPR-Cas9 for gene inactivation, etc.).

  • Cell replacement therapies involving the transplantation of dopaminergic progenitors to replace lost neurons and restore dopaminergic circuits.


Last publications

Animal models of Parkinson's disease: bridging the gap between disease hallmarks and research questions

"Our review seeks to better aid researchers by ensuring a concrete discernment of classical and novel animal models in PD research"


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