Watching Proteins Unfold: New Insights Could Impact Alzheimer’s

Watching Proteins Unfold: New Insights Could Impact Alzheimer’s
shutterstock_158826887Scientists at the University of Illinois have created an exciting new method for examining how proteins change their shape right inside cells, using fluorescent markers and a specialized microscope. They recently published their work in the December 1st issue of the journal Public Library of Science One (PLoS One). Many neurological diseases are characterized, and possibly caused by mis-folded proteins that muck up the cells of the brain and kill them. Examples of diseases and associated aberrant proteins include: beta-amyloid protein in Alzheimer's disease, huntingtin protein in Huntington's disease and alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease. Understanding how proteins in these diseases fold, mis-fold and how they are carried through cells and in the body could greatly help with understanding and possibly even treating these conditions. This is where the technology developed by Chemistry professor Martin Gruebele and his graduate students Minghao Guo and Hannah Gelman may help. For example, tracking protein transport and folding in Alzheimer's disease animal models may assist with understanding how the disease progresses. In the past, scientists simply studied the remnants of beta-amyloid protein in the already degenerated Alzheimer's diseased brain, making assumptions of how beta-amyloid deposits developed and killed cells. Gruebele pointed out that with the technology developed by his group: “We
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