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Scripps Florida Scientists Win $2.1 Million to Study Protein Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, June 09, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Scripps Florida Scientists Win $2.1 Million to Study Protein Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

JUPITER, FL, June 9, 2015 – Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded $2.1 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of The National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study a protein that has been closely linked in animal models to Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

TSRI Assistant Professor Srinivasa Subramaniam will be the principal investigator of the new five-year grant.

The focus of the new study is a multifunctional protein known as rapamycin (mTOR), which is involved in embryonic development, cancer and diabetes. Malfunction in mTOR activity—either too much or too little—has also been linked to a variety of brain dysfunctions such as epilepsy, mental retardation, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

In the new project, the researchers will use a wide variety of techniques to examine the role and regulation of this protein in a brain region called the striatum, which controls motor, psychiatric and cognitive functions.

“Even though mTOR is widely expressed throughout the body, its brain-specific regulation and function remain unclear,” Subramaniam said. “While we know that inhibiting mTOR protects against symptoms of Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases in animal models, the new grant will help us answer two critical questions: ‘How is mTOR regulated, and what happens when it is depleted selectively in the striatum?’ ”

Subramaniam’s long-term goal is to understand the system well enough to advance new therapies.

The number of the grant is 1R01NS087019.

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 about 2,700 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates—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

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