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Waste disposal in MND

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Dr Rob Layfield’s research at the University of Nottingham is funded by the MND Association. His research aims to investigate the cells waste disposal system, which could lead to new ways in how doctors manage the symptoms of the disease.

MND Association-funded researcher Alice Goode using NMR to investigate the structure of a mutant p62 protein.
MND Association-funded researcher Alice Goode using NMR to investigate the structure of a mutant
p62 protein.

Our work focuses on the effects of SQSTM1 mutations on the structure of the protein it encodes, p62. We are also testing the idea that MND-mutant p62 is defective at mediating protein degradation via autophagy (the cells waste disposal system).

We make use of a technique called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR); here, we take samples of the purified proteins and place them in a very strong magnetic field. The resulting data allows us to determine protein structure and make predictions about associated function. Our hope is that this information will help uncover the biological pathways that are altered in familial and sporadic MND, which will then direct other studies towards correcting the defects.

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(left) the structure of the p62 protein (right) microscopy image of the p62 protein inside human cells.

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The MND Association’s vision is a world free from MND. Realising this vision means investing more in research, further developing partnerships with the research community, funding bodies and industry, while ensuring that advances in understanding and treating MND are communicated as quickly and effectively as possible. Our Research Development team, composed of 11 members, work hard to achieve this. Principally, the Research Information team within this are involved in communication activities including this MND Research blog.

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