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Scripps Florida Scientists Win $1.5 Million to Study New Strategies for Parkinson’s Disease and Other Disorders

JUPITER, FL, July 27, 2015 – Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded nearly $1.5 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to explore the therapeutic potential of a class of proteins that play essential roles in the regulation and maintenance of human health.

These proteins are expressed throughout the body, including the central nervous system during brain development, and are associated with conditions including Parkinson’s disease, inflammation, arthritis, cancer, metabolic disorders (dyslipidemia, obesity, diabetes) and cardiovascular disease.

“These protein receptors have not been well studied, particularly in terms of small-molecule compounds that could affect their function,” said TSRI Associate Professor Douglas Kojetin, who is the principal investigator of the new four-year study. “We’ve found several natural small-molecule binding partners for a particular orphan receptor called Nurr1. It’s called an orphan receptor because natural small-molecule binding partners for this receptor are currently unknown, and this new grant will help uncover important details of the process. This study will potentially open up an entire new class of compounds that could affect millions of people with crippling diseases such as Parkinson’s.”

Kojetin’s laboratory focuses on the mode of action of small-molecule ligands (molecules that bind to other molecules and alter their function). In particular, the team studies how these ligands change the structure and dynamics of the proteins they target and how this contributes to biological function, disease and drug discovery.

The number of the grant is 1R01GM114420.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academy of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

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Douglas Kojetin is an associate professor at the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute. (High-res image)


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