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Shedding light on conformational changes during amyloidogenesis

March 20, 2020


  • How Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy (the AQS³pro) allows users to ‘see change’ in the secondary structure of proteins across a wide concentration range from 0.1 to over 200 mg/ml, and in the presence of excipients.
  • How synthetic alpha sheets could form the basis of therapeutics to clear toxic oligomers in people.
  • How ongoing studies are extending this research to other amyloid disease systems.

Amyloid Beta Protein Aggregation

Amyloid beta proteins are formed by neurons in the brain, where they perform important task include protecting the body from infections, repairing leaks in the blood-brain barrier, and regulating synaptic function. Aggregates of misfolded Amyloid beta, known as plaques, are strongly associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeldt Jakob Syndrome.

These plaques were long believed to trigger the cognitive impairments in Alzheimer’s disease, however recent research implicates smaller aggregates (oligomers) of amyloid beta as the toxic elements of this disease.

Monitoring Alpha Sheet Secondary Structure

Prof. Valerie Daggett and her team at the University of Washington developed synthetic peptides to target and inhibit these small, toxic aggregates. They designed these peptides to fold into a structure called an alpha sheet that can block amyloid beta aggregation at the early and most toxic stage when oligomers form.

In this webcast, Daggett and team describe how using the Microfluidic Modulation Spectroscopy-based AQS³pro (RedShiftBio) they observed all stages of amyloid beta cluster development. The research was able to identify monomers to six- and 12-protein oligomers, to plaques-- giving an unprecedented view of this alpha-sheet structure both in their synthesized peptides and in toxic species of amyloid beta.


Dr. Valerie Daggett
Professor, Bioengineering, Biochemistry, Biomedical and Health Informatics, Chemical Engineering, Molecular Engineering, Neuroscience and Biological Physics, Structure and Design, University of Washington.
Libo Wang
Dr. Libo Wang
Principal Application Scientist, RedShiftBio

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