Dr Mason explains: ‘In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, aggregation (or clumping) of proteins into toxic fibrils (or chains) is considered to be the key pathogenic event.
However, no therapeutic agents currently exist to control this process. In particular, two proteins known as ß-amyloid and a-synuclein aggregate into fibrils, forming amyloid plaques and Lewy bodies that are characteristic of these diseases. A problem arises, however, in antagonist development; in recent years it has become established that small soluble (protofibrillar) forms of amyloid are the neurotoxic species, and that larger fibrils rather serve as reservoirs for these smaller protofibrils.’
‘Unfortunately, peptides and drugs designed to prevent amyloid have until recently been concerned with removing these larger fibrillar deposits. If compounds designed to breakdown amyloid are only partially effective then the balance will be shifted in the direction of smaller protofibrillar forms, rendering the amyloid more toxic in the process. We will use our expertise in the amyloid, protein-protein interaction, and library screening and design fields to combat this.’
This grant application follows on from Dr Mason's previous experience in the field. There are currently 700,000 people living with dementia in the UK, this will rise to more than a million in less than 20 years. At present, dementia costs the UK around £17 billion each year. Development of drugs capable of slowing or stopping the onset of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson's disease would improve the lives of millions of sufferers worldwide.
Victoria Bartholomew | alfa
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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