Project 7.

Using C. elegans as a Model to Improve Therapeutics of Neurodegenerative Diseases (Sunil Shende, Computer Science, Kwangwon Lee, Biology)


Protein aggregation impacts several cellular functions, which has been commonly reported in several human disorders including neurodegeneration. Recent literature has shown that circadian entrainment can restore circadian behavior and improved cognition in mammals and reduced polyQ aggregation in C. elegans. In parallel, scientists found several drugs that can suppress/delay protein aggregation and improve lifespan in models of neurodegenerative disease. Based on these studies, we hypothesized that the combination of potential drug compounds with zeitgeber cycles may show the greater impact on suppression of protein aggregation in Neurodegenerative Diseases.


In our lab, we are interested in testing the impact of known drug compounds for neurodegenerative diseases in entrained conditions using C. elegans neurodegenerative models. C. elegans is a nematode that has been well characterized to study aging-associated diseases mainly protein aggregation disorders. Recent literature has shown that temperature cycles can reduce protein aggregation in these nematodes. Additionally, these nematodes have been widely used to find therapeutic compounds. Therefore, we would like to use this model to ask whether the combination of temperature cycles with drug compounds may show more significant impact on protein aggregation and lifespan. Our lab has well-established tools to quantify the protein aggregation and lifespan in these animals.

Student activities:

An REU student will learn to measure protein aggregation in Huntingtons and Parkinson’s disease model using confocal fluorescence microscopy followed by lifespan.