The quality of scientific discoveries depends on the performance of the technological platforms. Revolutionary in its conception, innovative in its organization, the ICM is also unique because of its advanced equipment.
FUNCTIONAL EXPLORATION PLATFORMS
The platforms for functional exploration allow investigations in vivo (i.e. on the living organism) that are non-invasive and respect the integrity of the subject. They are thus particularly adapted to humans – patients or healthy volunteers. They also permit the study by magnetic resonance imagery (MRI). These platforms support four principal axes of research: clinical research to study the major pathologies of the nervous system; research in the cognitive sciences to study the functioning of the brain and the neuronal bases of thought, behaviour and ageing; research on signal and image processing to develop new methods for processing brain imaging data; and the development of experimental therapeutics guided by imagery. These studies aim, for example, at identifying biomarkers of diseases, such as abnormal signals associated with neurodegenerative diseases that can be used to improve diagnosis and prognosis and monitor the effects of treatments.
Our functional exploration platforms :
PRECLINICAL FUNCTIONAL EXPLORATION PLATFORMS
The platform for preclinical functional exploration supports scientific projects carried out in experimental models, in order to establish solid bases for optimal clinical research in patients. The platforms presented here are the equivalent in animals of the platforms for functional exploration in humans. Several species, such as the zebra fish, Xenopus, rodents, are used respecting current ethical rules, each species presenting a specific advantage from the point of view of research.
All of these research activities on experimental models are subject to regulation, and the platforms respect the European directive of 2010 on the use of animals in research ratified in France in 2013. The platforms are inspected by the Regulations Committee, which assures respect of the animals’ well-being and verifies the competency of the researchers.
Our preclinical functional exploration platforms :
CELLULAR EXPLORATION PLATFORMS
The researchers of the ICM work on different scales, from molecules (DNA, proteins, therapeutic agents…) to the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves). The scale of the cell is mid-way between these two extremes: a cell contains trillions (hundreds of thousands of billions) of molecules and the human body (on the scale of the nervous system) contains trillions of cells. The cells have been called the “bricks of life”; molecular life is organized within them (production of proteins from DNA, metabolism, etc.) and they themselves are assembled and organized to assure the functioning of organs. In the brain, the cells that have the most important role are, of course, the neurons, which exchange information in the form of electrical and chemical activity in incredibly complex networks. Other cells support the neurons structurally and functionally, notably oligodendrocytes. These cells produce the myelin sheath that insulates the “electrical wires” (axons) connecting neurons, microglial cells and astrocytes. The latter two cells are at the heart of research in the ICM in its fight to understand nervous system diseases. This research depends on cell cultures, which are more easily manipulated outside the organism, electrophysiological studies of the activity of neurons, manipulations of “stem” cells from which neurons and oligodendrocytes develop and microscopic studies (histological) that reveal the anatomy of the cells and their molecular composition. All of these activities are possible on the cellular exploration platforms.
Our cellular exploration platforms :
MOLECULAR EXPLORATION PLATFORMS
In laboratories, the term “molecular” does not refer to all molecules in general. The molecules in question here are those that carry the genetic code (the genes). DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) can be considered to be library that contains all the information needed for the development and functioning of an organism. The expression of the information carried by the DNA is transmitted via an intermediate molecule, the RNA (ribonucleic acid). Proteins are ultimately produced from the latter. The activity of proteins determines the activity of cells (ex: neurons or support cells), which will then determine the functioning of organs and the organism.
Our molecular exploration platform :
BIOINFORMATICS AND BIOSTATISTICS PLATFORM
During the last two decades, research in neuroscience witnessed a spectacular explosion of data collected by the laboratories. In effect, molecular biology (genome sequencing, high-throughput functional analyses) and neuroimagery (visualization of the anatomy and the activity of the brain) underwent veritable technological revolutions leading to an unprecedented accumulation of data. To collect these observations is one thing, analyze and understand them in order to develop new therapies is another. The role of the platform is first to assure the collection of data from different sources, then store and organize it in order to be able to interpret it with the help of specialized methods and complex statistics.
Our bioinformatic et biostatistic platform:
RESEARCH TEAMS AND TECHNOLOGICAL PLATFORMS OF THE ICM
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