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October 23, 2018

Medical Research: Florida scientists and researchers make inroads

Updates on research being done in Florida: Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, HIV, stem cells, cancer and diabetes,

Amy Keller | 6/1/2012


» Caffeine Boost

Researchers at the University of South Florida’s Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute have found that the caffeine in coffee may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Their findings, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that the caffeine and an unknown component of the coffee interact to boost blood levels of a critical growth factor that appears to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Their research backs previous studies that found a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s among individuals who take up coffee drinking during middle age.

Traumatic Brain Injury

» Battle Scars

The University of South Florida has received $1.6 million from the Department of Defense to research traumatic brain injuries and other battlefield-related injuries and diseases. The grant involves four major projects, several of which will be conducted in collaboration with the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital next to the USF campus.

Macular Degeneration

» Dry Run

The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is conducting clinical trials of a treatment to stop the progression of the dry form of age-related macular degeneration and studies to discover ways to regenerate optic nerves.

Parkinson’s Disease

» Protein Attack

A study led by neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has unveiled a gene mutation that causes Parkinson’s disease. Using advanced DNA sequencing technology, the researchers examined the DNA of a large Swiss family — 11 members suffered from Parkinson’s — and discovered mutations in a protein responsible for recycling other proteins within cells. Disruption of that process by mutatations of a specific gene may be responsible for the buildup of proteins in brains of people suffering from Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Phil LoGrasso
Phil LoGrasso
» ‘Junk’ Enzymes

Scientists at Scripps Florida have created a compound that successfully protected brain cells in rats and mice from Parkinson’s. The new small molecule, known as SR-3306, works by inhibiting a class of enzymes called c-jun-N-terminal kinases, so-called “junk” enzymes, which play an important role in nerve cell survival. Professor Phil LoGrasso, who led the study, says the compound isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s, but it does have the potential to halt the progression of the disease.

» Motor Functions

Envoy Therapeutics, a drug discovery company in Jupiter, received a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to develop compounds targeting a motor circuit compromised in Parkinson’s disease via modulation of a receptor that Envoy recently identified.

Tags: Healthcare

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