Protein homeostasis in pregnancy and beyond

Posted 7 Nov 2018

New research at Flinders could have huge implications for our understanding of preeclampsia -as well as more than 40 other human disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration and arthritis.

Dr Amy Wyatt and her team will use a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to make gains in preeclampsia research - a high-risk illness in pregnancy which affects mother and baby - by building on their research focusing on ‘misfolded’ proteins.

Proteins are the molecular machinery that perform a variety of important functions within the human body. In order for proteins to function, they must maintain their correct shape, which is known as a ‘fold’. There are many reasons however why proteins can become ‘misfolded’, and the accumulation of misfolded proteins underlies more than 40 human disorders. Therefore, understanding how the body normally disposes of misfolded proteins is fundamentally important.

Dr Wyatt has identified that pregnancy zone protein (PZP) - which is dramatically elevated in blood during pregnancy - efficiently stabilises misfolded proteins. Her latest work will look at how this process occurs and shed light on why misfolded proteins accumulate in preeclampsia. This pioneering research has potentially broader relevance to other human disorders involving protein misfolding.

This research is made possible thanks to a generous supporter and kind donations from the community.

Project title: Protein homeostasis in pregnancy and beyond

Lead researcher: Dr. Amy Wyatt


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