Discovering how protein aggregates trigger neuronal degeneration

Structural Pathogenesis: How protein aggregate structure impacts disease

Prion Research Laboratory

Our lab strives to understand the molecular basis of (i) how proteins aggregate, (ii) how protein aggregates spread from cell-to-cell, (iii) how aggregates trigger protein clearance pathways, and (iv) how aggregate structure impacts spread and neuronal toxicity within the central nervous system. We focus on prion diseases, rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorders that occur in humans and animals. Although prion diseases are relatively rare in humans, the wealth of tools available provides opportunities to understand basic aspects of protein aggregation common to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Our team of biochemists and molecular biology experts employ biochemistry, cell biology, and genetic approaches together with simple to complex transgenic model systems. Our long term goal is translational, to develop therapies that prevent protein aggregate development and spread as well as halt disease progression at an early stage.

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