New study has implications for understanding the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases
Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) recently published a paper in the high-ranking “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) scientific journal which reported novel findings related to the molecular mechanism of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, dementia with Lewy bodies, and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The comprehensive, multidisciplinary study was led by the laboratory of Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, QBRI Executive Director, and his research team, in collaboration with multiple international research groups from the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and Greece.
A substantial build-up of alpha-synuclein protein is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases. Using a wide variety of model systems, this study demonstrates that phosphorylated form of alpha synuclein occurs after initial protein aggregation and appears to inhibit further build-up, possibly implying a protective role. This new finding has important implications for our understanding of the pathobiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Taken together, the results challenge the understanding of this protein modification and its central pathogenic role in driving disease initiation, progression, and cellular toxicity.
Dr. El-Agnaf said: “Neurodegenerative diseases are the fastest growing disorders in terms of prevalence, disability, and deaths. In addition to shedding light on disease mechanisms, our findings may inspire the discovery of prognostic biomarkers, development of disease-modifying drugs, and the design of future neuropathological studies. Publication in the prestigious PNAS journal positions our study to inform further scientific efforts that shift research in a positive direction for the millions of people affected by these conditions.”
Considered a pioneer in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. El-Agnaf mainly targets understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases including their progression, developing novel potential diagnostic and therapeutic tools, and biomarker discovery in his lab. His team’s research projects support QBRI’s mission in promoting translational medicine. The full paper can be accessed at https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2109617119.
For more information about QBRI, a national center of excellence and a global hub for biomedical and translational research related to diabetes, cancer, and neurological disorders, please visit qbri.hbku.edu.qa