A Surprising New Look at Aging-Associated Disorders

Instead of trying to prevent protein formations associated with neurodegenerative diseases, scientists at the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences are exploring ways to harness them

Protein aggregation is a process in which clusters of proteins accumulate in the cells, and is associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s. Due to its perceived detrimental effect on our health, scientists have been trying to find ways to prevent the process from occurring. So far, they've had very limited success, nor have they even been able to comprehend its exact role in triggering diseases.

However, a team of researchers from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Hebrew University’s Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, has opted for an entirely different strategy. After exploring the mechanism behind the process, the researchers, headed by Dr. Daniel Kaganovich, discovered that not all protein clumps have a toxic effect, and that, in fact, some of them have an important functional and protective role. Thus, instead of trying to prevent the onset of the process, they decided to concentrate on deciphering the mechanism of healthy vs unhealthy aggregation, and manipulating it in order ultimately to be able to remove toxic proteins.

Dr. Daniel Kaganovich of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology was granted 1.64 million Euros under the 7th Framework Programme for his project on studying protein aggregation.

Endogenously labeled intermediate filaments in mammalian cells. Intermediate filaments appear to interact with certain protein aggregate structures.