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.

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