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2010 Grants - Franco
Copper Transport Regulates Amyloid-Beta–Induced Neurodegeneration
Rodrigo Franco, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska
2010 New Investigator Research Grant to Promote Diversity
Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment that is known to be toxic to nerve cells. However, the mechanisms of that toxicity are not well understood. Some evidence suggests that high levels of copper in the brain may increase the toxicity of beta-amyloid, and other evidence suggests that copper binds to beta-amyloid and may promote oxidative stress.
Rodrigo Franco, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed to study the role of copper in beta-amyloid toxicity, focusing on the role of two proteins involved in transporting copper atoms into cells. The researchers will use molecular and biochemical techniques to examine the role of these two proteins, known as ATP7a and CTR1, in the regulation of copper levels in the brain and within nerve cells of the brain. They will also determine how the activity of these proteins affects the toxicity of beta-amyloid and the levels of oxidative stress. Finally, Dr. Franco and colleagues will study the molecular mechanisms by which copper increases the toxicity of beta-amyloid. These studies will improve our understanding of how beta-amyloid causes nerve cell toxicity, as well as the role of copper in that process. This knowledge may lead to the identification of new drug targets to slow or halt the progression of beta-amyloid–induced neurodegeneration.