The human body is made up of trillions of cells. Within each cell are proteins that help to maintain the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. When cells are under stress, as in response to heat or toxins, certain proteins within the cell condense into liquid-like droplets called condensates. These droplets can be thought of as a form of quality control allowing the cell to minimize the effects of the stress condition.
Cases of abnormal condensate formation or persistence have recently been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and cancer. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Carlos Castañeda, assistant professor of biology and chemistry, and his team will investigate the regulation and dysregulation of condensates using biophysical and cell biology approaches. This research may lead to determining what causes diseases like ALS. Continue Reading