KCU researcher receives grant from international consortia to study ALS pathophysiology

By Elizabeth Alex Feb 3, 2023
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KCU Professor of Biosciences Abdulbaki Agbas, PhD, MSc, will share in a projected $1.5 million grant over the course of three years to study the accumulation of TDP-43 in platelets that is relevant to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) pathophysiology. This international consortium is funded by Boston-based Target ALS Foundation.

The research, titled “Does the accumulation of disease-associated forms of TDP-43 in platelets parallel ALS pathophysiology in the nervous system?” will analyze TDP-43 protein profile using novel monoclonal antibodies in platelets from ALS patients in order to eventually expand the pipeline of therapeutic targets and improve the chance of success in future clinical trials.

Agbas’ laboratory at KCU will join three other labs (USA, Switzerland, and Italy) using different technologies to establish the best method of identifying the TDP-43 protein as a possible biomarker for ALS. All researchers will study blood-derived platelets from the same patients who are currently living with the disease.

Agbas has been with KCU for 13 years and is dedicated to finding clues to the origins of ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease. When Dr. Ruth Luthi-Carter, a project leader at AC Immune (Switzerland) learned that Agbas’ ongoing investigation of TDP-43 in platelets was submitted for patent application, she invited him to be part of this consortia. The group will study how TDP-43 protein behaves prior to becoming diseased.

“This opportunity is gratifying for me,” Agbas said. “Working in platelets has not been thoroughly explored to date. We hope the consortia will find valuable information in the effort to diagnose, and treat this heartbreaking and deadly disease.” In May 2023, Dr. Agbas will serve as a speaker at the Target ALS Foundation Annual Research Symposium in Boston.

Additionally, Agbas said students from KCU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Biosciences will have an opportunity to work with him on the study which will take place over three years.


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