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The role of the metabotropic glutamate receptor type 5 in motor neuron disease (MND)

Project Description

A major focus of research within the internationally recognised Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) is to understand the pathways leading to neurodegeneration, and to identify new approaches which will protect neurons. This PhD project will investigate the role of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) in neurodegeneration in motor neuron disease (MND). We are collaborating with a world leading Biotech company, Sosei Heptares, and using their novel mGlu5 antagonist [1, 2] to dissect the role of mGlu5 in a range of cutting edge in vitro and in vivo disease models of MND [3, 4]. The project has a significant translational angle and the generated data will support potential future therapeutic trials in neurodegenerative diseases such as MND.

The PhD candidate would work with Sosei Heptares’ mGlu5 antagonist and other chemical probes in our model systems of MND, both in vitro (astrocyte and MN cultures [4]) and in vivo (SOD1 G93A mice [3] TDP-43 Q331K mice [5] and C9ORF72 BAC transgenic mice [6]) to dissect disease mechanisms and pathways. Both in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology will be a major component of the work. The candidate will also have the opportunity to be placed for a period within Sosei Heptares, providing unique training in Industrial drug development..

1. Christopher, J.A., et al., Fragment and Structure-Based Drug Discovery for a Class C GPCR: Discovery of the mGlu5 Negative Allosteric Modulator HTL14242 (3-Chloro-5-[6-(5-fluoropyridin-2-yl)pyrimidin-4-yl]benzonitrile). J Med Chem, 2015. 58(16): p. 6653-64.
2. Dore, A.S., et al., Structure of class C GPCR metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 transmembrane domain. Nature, 2014. 511(7511): p. 557-62.
3. Mead, R.J., et al., Optimised and Rapid Pre-clinical Screening in the SOD1 Transgenic Mouse Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). PLoS One, 2011. 6(8): p. e23244.
4. Meyer, K., et al., Direct conversion of patient fibroblasts demonstrates non-cell autonomous toxicity of astrocytes to motor neurons in familial and sporadic ALS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2014. 111(2): p. 829-32.
5. Arnold, E.S., et al., ALS-linked TDP-43 mutations produce aberrant RNA splicing and adult-onset motor neuron disease without aggregation or loss of nuclear TDP-43. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2013. 110(8): p. E736-45.
6. Liu, Y., et al., C9orf72 BAC Mouse Model with Motor Deficits and Neurodegenerative Features of ALS/FTD. Neuron, 2016. 90(3): p. 521-34.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded with home fees (UK/EU) and stipend of £15,009 per annum for three and a half years and a generous consumables budget to cover project costs.

Proposed start date: February 2020


Entry Requirements:
Candidates must be highly motivated with an excellent work ethic and a first or upper second class honors degree, ideally in neuroscience or related subject. Significant research experience and an interest in drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases are highly desirable. Experience of working with in vivo models and/or completion of an accredited Home Office personal license training course is also desirable. Experience in an industrial setting would also be valued.

Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Richard Mead on 0114 2222256 or by email [email protected]

How to apply:
Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here:

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select Neuroscience as the department.

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