MBB scientists propose new model describing the formation of protein aggregates in Dementia

  • Several neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are caused by the aberrant aggregation of proteins.
  • Research from the Staniforth Laboratory in MBB has led to a new mathematical model describing the process of aggregate formation.
  • The findings improve our understanding of the first stages of neurodegenerative diseases involved in dementia. 

Aggregates modelSeveral diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are caused by the aggregation of proteins. Typically the aggregation of protein is a two-step nucleation process where monomers initially form metastable intermediates which then convert to a more stable polymer structure which elongates rapidly. There are several mathematical models for the aggregation process, but none of them fits the observed behaviour well – for example, why the apparent reaction order is often close to 1.

New research from the Laboratory of Dr Rosie Staniforth from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield tackles this issue with a new mathematical model published in the Journal of Chemical Physics. The key novelty of the paper is that it models aggregation as a competition between growth and conversion of monomers within the metastable intermediate phase. This model fits to a wide range of experimental data, and produces important new predictions.

Dr Rosie Staniforth said, “We are now able to predict the observed richness of intermediate populations that play a crucial role in neurodegeneration.” 

Read the full paper here.