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News: Into the Fold

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Into the Fold

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6/25/2012 12:00 AM

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Short Description

Biomedical engineer and DBBS faculty member Rohit Pappu directs the new Center for Biological Systems Engineering, where he and a team of key investigators use network approaches to solve problems underlying complex diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration​

Description

by Tony Fitzpatrick

Huntington’s disease is cruel and devastating. The inherited disorder’s signature is the wasting away of brain nerve cells, leading to a host of nightmarish symptoms and outcomes. In Huntington’s, a portion of DNA known as a CAG repeat occurs 30 to 120 times rather than the 10 to 28 times that it does in normal cells. As the gene passes through families, the CAG repeats often get longer, hastening the development of disease at increasingly younger ages. Symptoms include uncontrolled movements, fidgeting, hallucinations, paranoia and dementia. One in 10,000 people of European stock is affected by Huntington’s. There is no cure, and while some drugs show promise, no known way exists to prevent the disease from getting worse.
 
Rohit Pappu, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the new Center for Biological Systems Engineering, studies proteins involved in the development of Huntington’s disease and related neurodegenerative motor control disorders. All involve an ensemble of recently recognized eccentric proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), and share the common theme of protein aggregation, or clumping, leading to neuronal death and disease. Perhaps the best-known example of protein aggregation is the beta amyloid plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

 

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Created at 6/25/2012 10:32 AM by Jennifer Brown
Last modified at 7/18/2012 10:43 AM by Jennifer Brown