Research seeks to better understanding the links between protein aggregation and neurodegenerative disease
Researchers in Dr. Shewmaker’s Lab are studying proteins that inappropriately aggregate in the neurons of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease that specifically affects the neurons that control movement. For unknown reasons, ALS affects military veterans twice as frequently as the general population, regardless of branch or specialty. There are no drugs that reverse or stop ALS disease progression, so there is an imperative to identify new therapeutic targets.
The pathological aggregation of certain proteins is not unique to ALS. Many similar neurodegenerative diseases share this phenomenon, albeit different disease may be linked to different proteins. The Shewmaker Lab is focused on understanding this general phenomenon. Elucidating why and how certain proteins pathologically aggregate may help develop future therapeutic interventions against numerous diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
The millions of proteins within cells undergo numerous modifications as part of their normal functions. The Shewmaker Lab is determining how these modifications alter the way certain proteins aggregate (either functionally or pathologically). Understanding these modifications will enable development of new pharmacological treatments.