“Research! This is, and forever will be, the basis of mankind’s efforts to unravel the causes, subsequent prevention and cure of diseases of the nervous system. Sometimes there are ‘giant leaps’ such as Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon- but in reality, most scientific advances are ‘microscopic steps’. However, it is the accumulation of these ‘microscopic steps’ that ultimately culminates in the ‘giant leaps’- or major medical breakthroughs”
- E. Malcolm Field, M.D.
OVERALL RESEARCH SUMMARY
Our research efforts have continued to focus primarily on developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and glioblastoma. We are conducting this research in the FNI labs in Saginaw and at CMU, as well as the Brain Research Lab at SVSU, Panchanan Maiti, Julien Rossignol and Gary Dunbar overseeing the various projects. Collectively, we have been publishing over 10 articles each year for the past three years, with a citation rate of over 10 per article. The number of times an article is cited is the best metric for impact, and articles from FNI-sponsored research are collectively ranked in the top 5%. Since January 1, 2020, articles from FNI researchers have been cited over 250 times.
The discovery of effective treatments for neurological disorders is often a long, slow, and arduous process, fraught with many frustrations and setbacks. Nonetheless, each study provides new insights into what might work and what does not seem to work and each day brings us a better understanding of the diseases and more sophisticated ideas of how to treat them. Although none of these disorders, with the possible exception of Huntington's disease, is likely to succumb to a single (magic bullet) treatment, we have found what treatments show the most promise and are also looking at rational combinations of certain treatments as our next steps. We think that Huntington's disease may soon be treated with genetic therapy, but the others are more complicated and will probably require a combinatorial approach, much like what is described above for treating glioblastoma. Our preliminary results suggest that the nutraceuticals we are testing for treating Alzheimer's disease confer some protective effects, and this may be potentiated by using them in combination, which we hope to test in the near future. This is probably the case with Parkinson's disease and stroke. As mentioned at the beginning, these FNI-sponsored projects represent relatively novel approaches to treating neurological disorders and have provided the bases of insightful new studies in labs around the world, as measured by the growing number of citations in the literature. Science is a collective enterprise, and FNI has been doing more than its fair share in producing high-quality, therapeutically relvenat research.
Human glioblastoma cells (U-87MG) were grown in Eagle's Minimum Essential Media and treated with curcumin for 24h. The cells were stained with JC-1 (a mitochondrial dye) and images were taken using laser scanning confocal microscope. Left: vehicle-treated cell. Right: Curcumin-treated cell. Curcumin treatment increased mitochondrial degeneration, decreased their number and induced cell death.