CNDR Fellow Receives Top Prize at National Udall Meeting

Jing Guo, PhD, a post doctoral fellow in the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, recently received an honor at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)’s national meeting of all the Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research. She presented recent work from the Penn Udall Center showing how one disease protein can morph into different strains of aggregates and promote misfolding of other disease proteins commonly found in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other related neurodegenerative diseases, which was published in Cell on July 3rd this year. The poster presentation prompted a lot of questions and conversation among the researchers in attendance, earning her poster 1st prize among other posters from Udall Centers around the country.

The work is being carried on within the lab, where the neuropathology team is looking into the presence of pathological strains in human brains.

Guo is renewing her focus on the tau protein, hoping to establish a sporadic model of tau disease. “My goal is to make [the induction of tau pathology] work in a wild type context, as that would be a better model for sporadic diseases,” said Guo. “Our hypothesis is that maybe we haven’t been using the right strain of pathological tau that is infiltrating human brains.”

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Ware Retreat Brings International Transmission Experts to Debate Neurodegenerative Disease Progression

In a stellar meeting of the minds, the annual Marian S. Ware Neurodegenerative Disease Research Retreat took on a timely topic this year – the transmission of neurodegenerative disease pathologies – and brought some of the brightest researchers in the field together to debate commonalities and differences between diseases.CNDR Retreat 3

“It’s an exciting time to get everybody together because there are so many things to discuss and share,” said event chair Virginia Lee, PhD, MBA, director of the Penn Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research.

Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) was on hand for the symposium, and met with the presenters during the poster session.

CNDR Retreat 1 Throughout the day, world leaders in prions, amyloid-beta, tau and alpha-synuclein transmission spoke about their understanding of how various strains pass from other cells while causing damage along the way.

At the end of the day, the group debated whether the diseases were all “prion-like,” with many arguing that they were not similar enough, even though there were some commonalities between the proteins, to call them all prion-like. The group discussed practical implications, such as issues with stigma associated with infectious prions, causing many in the group to pause and concede that perhaps a new term needed to be developed all together.