Using Math to Help Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other Diseases

August 15, 2019
Illustration of protein aggregation

L. Mahadevan's latest study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers insight into treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases in which protein aggregation (misfolded proteins clump together) is implicated. While the role of protein aggregation is not fully understood, many current treatments target the aggregation process. However, finding the right treatment protocols for these drugs is challenging.

Mahadevan and team developed a mathematical model to better understand how drugs inhibit the growth of protein fibrils and offers a guide to develop more effective strategies to target protein aggregation diseases.


Illustration of protein aggregation. Aggregates are formed through an initial primary nucleation step followed by elongation. Once a critical concentration of aggregates is reached, secondary nucleation introduces a positive feedback cycle leading to exponential growth of aggregate concentration. (Illustration courtesy of L Mahadevan/Harvard SEAS)
See also: Faculty News, 2019