Without science, the world would not be advancing and finding cures to the most prevalent diseases.
Discovering new treatments to overcome the devastating effects of neurological diseases and disorders can come from seemingly unrelated avenues of investigation.
Your brain requires roughly 20 per cent of your energy each day. Most of that energy is produced by tiny structures inside cells called mitochondria, which break down complex carbohydrates from our food into simple sugars.
However, mitochondria can deteriorate as we age. This is why mitochondrial dysfunction lies at the core of many human diseases, including inherited mitochondrial diseases and possibly more common age-related diseases such as dementias and cancer.
Dr Steven Zuryn’s main aim is to minimise the impact of disease and injury to brain cells resulting from Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury to promote recovery and prolong a normal healthy life. His team has discovered certain genetic-based mechanisms that help protect against nerve cell damage.
With the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model, the Zuryn group aims to understand how these mechanism work, by isolating the genes and their expression via cells at the molecular level. Zuryn is gaining a better understanding of these mechanisms to predict the type of environmental stress that impacts on gene expression and progresses disease onset.
Identifying the molecules supporting the healthy function of neurons is bringing Dr Zuryn closer to advancing the development of treatments that imitate this mechanism and improve the recovery of individuals affected by stroke, dementia and various mitochondrial diseases.