20.109(S10):Notebook/W/F Green Research Proposal
Develop a new way to study and characterize prions, or inhibit prion activity.
Prions, are unique and unusually stable protein pathogens that can cause disease like Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), scrapies, or mad-cow disease. Recently, studies have shown that prions also have normal, healthy function in cells like neurons--indicating that prions are vital for maintaining cell homeostasis (Bremer, 2010).
The role of prions in the functioning of organisms is still ill-understood. Moreso, the treatment and cure for prion diseases seem non-existent. However, this ubiquitous protein may be advantageous to science. Combined with bio-engineering principles, we may be able to develop probes in order to characterize and study prion function.
Research problem and goals
The first idea we propose is to help one study the characteristics and manifestation of prion proteins and the diseases it causes.
(1) Is it possible to measure the rates of prion activity in a sample using fluorescent or spectroscopic methods?
This could help us characterize the potency of prion proteins, help us characterize their stability and interaction with other proteins, and be ussed as a metric to find agents that could reduce or stop damaging prion behavior.
Project details and methods
Predicted outcomes if everything goes according to plan and if nothing does
Resources necessary to complete the work
Bremer, J. et al. Nature Neurosci. doi:10.1038/nn.2483 (2010).