Tracking proteins behaving badly provides insights for treatments of brain diseases

March 19, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- A research team led by the University of Melbourne has developed a novel technique that tracks diseased proteins behaving badly by forming clusters in brain diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

The technique published in today is the first of its kind to rapidly identify and track the location of diseased proteins inside cells and could provide insights into improved treatments for and others such as cancer.
 
Developed by Dr Danny Hatters and his team of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne, the technique uses a flow cytometer to track the clusters in cells at a rate of 1000s per minute. In addition, cells with clustered proteins can be recovered for further study - neither of which had been possible before.
 
“Being able to identify locations of diseased proteins in cells enables drugs to be developed to target different stages of disease development,” he said.
 
He said the technique has application to many neurological diseases, which are characterised by formations of proteins clustering such as in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

“A challenge for researchers has been trying to understand how proteins and cause damage in diseases like Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. This is the first approach which could enable us to answer those questions.”
 
“Now we can see how the proteins form clusters inside a cell and can examine which cell functions are being damaged at different steps of the clustering process.”

“No drugs at this stage can stop the clustering process in Huntington’s disease for example. This sets up platforms to develop drugs that block the formation of clusters,” Dr Hatters said.
 
The technique can also be used to examine how signaling processes occur such as when genes are switched on and off.
 
“It has application to track events of abnormal gene signaling such as in cancer ” Dr Hatters said.
 
“This technique offers hope in improving treatments for a range of neurological and other conditions,” he said.
 
This work builds on Dr Hatters previous research where he and his team identified the behaviour of diseased Huntington proteins forming into clusters.
 
The work was done in collaboration with Monash University.

Explore further: Brain cells created from patients' skin cells

Related Stories

Brain cells created from patients' skin cells

February 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cambridge scientists have, for the first time, created cerebral cortex cells – those that make up the brain’s grey matter – from a small sample of human skin.  The researchers’ ...

Scientists uncover free radical clue to dementia

July 22, 2011
A computer model programmed by scientists at Newcastle University suggests that preventing damage from free radicals could be key to fighting dementia.

Scientists expose important new weak spot in cancer cells

December 5, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that cancer cells can ‘bag up and bin’ a toxic protein to cheat death – revealing a new Achilles heel in cancer cells that could be targeted ...

New target for Alzheimer's drugs

February 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Biomedical scientists at the University of California, Riverside have identified a new link between a protein called beta-arrestin and short-term memory that could open new doors for the therapeutic treatment ...

Researchers identify path to treat Parkinson's disease at its inception

January 16, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Imagine if doctors could spot Parkinson’s disease at its inception and treat the protein that triggers it before the disease can sicken the patient.   A team of researchers led by Basir Ahmad, ...

Recommended for you

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Estrogen discovery could shed new light on fertility problems

December 12, 2017
Estrogen produced in the brain is necessary for ovulation in monkeys, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have upended the traditional understanding of the hormonal cascade that leads to release ...

Time of day affects severity of autoimmune disease

December 12, 2017
Insights into how the body clock and time of day influence immune responses are revealed today in a study published in leading international journal Nature Communications. Understanding the effect of the interplay between ...

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts

December 12, 2017
Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of Penn State engineers believe they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue ...

Team identifies DNA element that may cause rare movement disorder

December 11, 2017
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has identified a specific genetic change that may be the cause of a rare but severe neurological disorder called X-linked dystonia parkinsonism (XDP). Occurring only ...

Protein Daple coordinates single-cell and organ-wide directionality in the inner ear

December 11, 2017
Humans inherited the capacity to hear sounds thanks to structures that evolved millions of years ago. Sensory "hair cells" in the inner ear have the amazing ability to convert sound waves into electrical signals and transmit ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.