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Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Scholar Award
Determining the Best Drug Candidate as a Potential Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease
2016 ADDF-Harrington Scholar
The enzyme JNK3 is known to add an extra phosphate to a cellular protein in the brain to create an abnormal protein. In the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, JNK3 is very active, and the resulting aberrant protein appears to disrupt the normal processes that keep cells in metabolic balance. When JNK3 is deleted genetically in laboratory animals, the amount of abnormal protein is reduced by 90 percent. Dr. Yoon seeks a small-molecule inhibitor of JNK3.
Dr. Yoon and her colleagues have identified several potential candidate molecules. With assistance from Peter Bernstein, PhD, a member of the Harrington Discovery Institute's Innovation Support Center Advisory Board, they hope to determine the best candidate for further development.
“Metabolic disruption has been observed as a common theme in many chronic diseases. Interestingly, patients with Type 1 diabetes, a metabolic disease, develop Alzheimer's at twice the rate of non-diabetics. If we can discover how metabolism is disturbed in Alzheimer's, there potentially could be other applications for this drug.”
“We are curious, asking what is behind this metabolic disruption. We now may have a hint, which leads to a totally different kind of research. It comes with a challenge, but that is what keeps us going.”