Ted Dawson, MD., PHD., director of Cell Engineering at John Hopkins and Valina Dawson, MD., PHD., Professor of Neurology at John Hopkins have found a protein that causes brain diseases in an experiment that launched in the years of 2013-2014. The research group that have been working on this experiment found that brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and the rare disease Huntington’s share the same process. The researchers put it as, a distinct programmed process which causes the brain cell death. This process is called Parathanatos. The two professor and the research group spent years looking through each link in the Parathanatos chain of events. They kept distinct record of each protein and its role in the chain.
Current study says the chain is completed, and a protein was discovered. The protein is called Mitochondrial Apoptosis- Inducing factor (AIF). This protein leaves the mitochondria and goes into the nucleus which leads into cell death, hence the name Apoptosis which basically means that if the cell goes through certain markers and doesn’t have all the criteria it needs, it goes and kills itself.
AIF cannot cut DNA by itself, so Professor Yingfei Wang, PHD., did more research. After screening 160 candidates and their proteins. She used lab grown- molecules that would interfere with the small interfering RNAs to see if it would stop cell death.
One of the 160 proteins was a lead. The protein is called macrophage Migration Inhibitory factory (MIF). The researchers found that the AIF binds to the MIF, and the AIF takes the MIF into the nucleus where the MIF cuts up the DNA. It might be part of the final execution step in Parathanatos.
The experiment had shown that chemical compound in the lab-grown cells blocks the MIF actions. This experiment still had to be tested in animals to work out kinks. MIF actions have only been 100% linked with Stroke. The action of MIF was disabled when it was tested on mice, and the act of stroke was greatly reduced. Ted Dawson said in an interview with Shawna Williams, “We are interested in finding out whether MIF is definitely involved with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative disease. If it is and testing is successful in humans, it could have implications for treating many conditions. Isabel Vulcan, a Registered Nurse in the ER at West Valley Medical Center states, “It could stop the progression of the disease, it could improve the quality of life for many patients, and could possibly open up their ‘dream box’, their memories.”