Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Namitha Alexander.
2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: undeclared
Mentor: Frank Longo, Neurology & Neurological Sciences

“Genetic Relevance of Neurotrophin Receptors in Huntington's Disease”

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes expression of a mutant huntingtin (mHtt) protein. Currently, disease-modifying therapies for HD do not exist. The Longo laboratory has developed a small molecule that binds to a specific neurotrophin receptor which was observed to reduce clusters of mHtt, or aggregates, that are prevalent in neurodegeneration in an HD mouse model. To confirm the positive results of this small molecule and investigate its mechanisms, Namitha will use another HD mouse model to observe the molecule’s effects on mHtt and on proteins related to autophagy, the process of degrading unwanted proteins. This work is significant to understanding the link between the neurotrophin receptor and autophagy in the context of neurodegenerative diseases.