Amyloid diseases are a group of diseases in which more than 30 proteins are known to aggregate and cause degenerative diseases. These diseases have a common underlying amyloid fibril accumulation in specific organs such as the brain, pancreas, and heart. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer?s disease (AD) and Parkinson?s disease (PD) are the examples of highly progressively debilitating age-related brain diseases under this category. Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiac amyloidosis belong to the extracerebral amyloid diseases that have the worst prognosis without treatment. These diseases have sporadic and familial origins, infectious forms such as the spongiform encephalopathies, and localized as well as systemic forms such as the transthyretin amyloidosis. Despite making a significant progress to understand the pathogenesis of these diseases over the last 3 decades, most clinical trials have failed to produce successful therapies so far for the neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., AD and PD). Furthermore, diagnoses of these diseases at the initial stages are difficult and no definitive laboratory tests exist for most of these neurodegenerative diseases. The diagnostic difficulties and clinical trial failures clearly indicate poor or incomplete understanding of the origin and pathomechanisms of these diseases. Also, it is possible that these diseases may have different origins or causes and disease progression pathways. Perhaps these diseases cross a much bigger basic science, engineering and clinical science disciplines, and thus a much broader inter-disciplinary team of research scientists should come together to make a better understanding of these diseases. This conference is being organized to educate junior faculty members and graduate students from diverse disciplines what was understood thus far about these diseases on diverse topics such as misfolding and aggregation of amyloid proteins, self-assembly process, amyloid toxicity, cellular studies to identify molecular mechanisms, diagnosis, biomarker and inhibitor developments, and treatment options. The organizers have identified speakers in multiple disciplines who have lately come up with novel and cutting-edge approaches to better understand or diagnose these diseases. With the above background, the primary goal is to enable junior faculty members, graduate students and post- doctoral fellows to attend this conference so that they will be better informed of these diseases that will motivate them to target their research focus on the diseases. The secondary goals include deliberations on: 1) as to how to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo studies and enhance collaborations among researchers working in these areas, 2) whether basic research be better focused to identify and characterize the most toxic early aggregates under in vitro and cellular conditions, 3) whether the identified amyloid species be tested in animal models for the development of biomarkers, 4) development of new approaches for in vitro and in vivo animal models, and 5) as to how to bridge the ?translational? gap for improved identification of newer therapeutic targets for the neurodegenerative diseases.

Public Health Relevance

This conference will bring together basic and medical science researchers with a goal to better understand the pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer?s and Parkinson diseases. The planned events of the conference are aimed at promoting interactions and collaborations among researchers in the multidisciplinary area to reduce the gap between in vitro and in vivo studies, with the hope to develop early diagnostic approaches and potential treatment plans for the neurodegenerative diseases. The requested funds will be used to encourage junior faculty members, graduate students, women and minority researchers in the US institutions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Conference (R13)
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Neuroscience of Aging Review Committee (NIA)
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Opanashuk, Lisa A
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Ann Arbor
United States
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