Andrew Tan PhD
Associate Research Scientist in Neurology
Spinal cord injury; pain; spasticity; plasticity; CNS; glial scar; therapeutics; peripheral nerve injury; diabetes; electrophysiology
Many people with spinal cord injury (SCI) develop neuropathic pain and spasticity within months after injury. Neuropathic pain and spasticity are medical complications after SCI that can severely affect quality of life, interfere with daily activities, and impose a huge economic burden on individuals and society. Unfortunately, despite aggressive efforts, there is still no cure for these conditions after SCI.
The goal of our research is to identify a treatment strategy for clinically intractable pain and spasticity after spinal cord injury (SCI). An emerging concept in SCI pathology is the involvement of a spinal memory mechanism. In classical learning and memory, dendritic spines—micron-sized synaptic structures—have an adaptive role in cortical function and contribute to experience-dependent enhancement of synaptic efficacy. In pathology, however, dendritic spine plasticity appears maladaptive. Dendritic spine morphology (i.e., shape, number, and location) can determine the quality and magnitude of electrical information as it is relayed through neuronal circuits. In a larger sense, spine architecture can influence how the nervous system functions.