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2010 Grants - Carulla
Structure-Toxicity Relationship of Abeta Oligomers
Natàlia Carulla, Ph.D.
Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona
2010 New Investigator Research Grant
The protein fragment beta-amyloid is a key suspect in Alzheimer's disease. Beta-amyloid tends to accumulate into clumps called plaques within the Alzheimer brain. However, many recent studies have found that early-stage accumulations of beta-amyloid may be more toxic to the brain than plaques. These accumulations, which contain only a few beta-amyloid molecules, are called oligomers, and they may promote brain cell damage and death. However, the mechanisms by which oligomers exert their toxicity are poorly understood.
To help clarify these mechanisms, many research teams have been working to determine the exact structure of the most toxic amyloid oligomers. One such team, led by Natàlia Carulla, Ph.D., plans to engineer a variety of oligomers in the laboratory. They will then assess the toxicity of these amyloid clumps in cultured brain cells. The researchers will also use a combination of sophisticated chemical and imaging techniques to determine the oligomers' structural makeup.
Dr. Carulla and colleagues hope their work will better define the structural properties associated with oligomeric toxicity. Such knowledge could lead to more accurate and targeted treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders.