MCW looks to slime mold to try to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS

Organism resistant to underlying cause of diseases


Medical College of Wisconsin researchers over the next five years will see if the properties of a particular type of slime mold could be used to prevent or cure diseases caused by protein aggregation, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.

The Medical College of Wisconsin.
The Medical College of Wisconsin.

The National institutes of Health gave the medical college a $1.9 million grant to conduct the research.

Protein aggregation refers to the accumulation and clumping together of proteins within a person’s cells. It’s the underlying cause of more than 70 diseases.

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In a previous study, MCW researchers found a particular type of cellular slime mold called Dictyostelium discoideum has certain properties that make it naturally resistant to protein aggregation.

Researchers will use the grant to better understand those properties, how they work, and whether they could be replicated in humans to prevent or cure protein aggregation-caused diseases.

“What’s innovative about this particular research is that normally scientists study how cells and organisms react to the addition of aggregation prone proteins,” said Dr. Matt Scaglione, assistant professor of biochemistry at MCW and principal investigator of the grant. “For this study, we are doing the exact opposite. We found an organism that normally suppresses protein aggregation and are attempting to figure out how. Once we accomplish this, we can then try to find how it could be applied to humans.”

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