A. Baki Agbas, MSc, PhD
Professor of Biosciences
Research Interests: Biomarker Development for Neurodegenerative Diseases. His current work includes:
1. The development of blood-based biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known Lou Gehrig’s disease
- His lab is collaborating with clinicians on several clinical trials like Rasagilin-80 and the oxaloacetate trial for ALS patients, assessing the oxaloacetic acid (OAA) treatment for ALS model mouse as part of an explorative study for developing treatment for human ALS. His team published a peer-reviewed paper pertinent to this subject linked here: (https://www.future-science.com/doi/10.4155/fsoa-2017-0090)
2. Mitochondrial respiration profile in Alzheimer’s disease and ALS as a potential biomarker
- Currently, Agbas’ lab is collaborating with University of Kansas Medical Center researchers to study NIH-funded Functional Biomarkers for ALS. In this study, they are working to validate serum mitochondrial and proteostasis biomarkers in ALS.
3. Brain-derived exosomes (i.e., neuronal derived exosomes (NDE), microglia-derived exosomes (MDE), and astrocytes derived exosomes (ADE) all of which are valuable venues to study blood–based biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases
- The goal of this study is to determine if circulating extracellular vesicles (EV) sub-organelles, micro vesicles (MV) and exosomes (EXO) may serve as a key pathway for clearance of pathological proteins that are relevant in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease; hence, they may be identified as valid blood-based biomarkers. Absence of such biomarkers and the variability in clinical findings may make the diagnosis and prognosis of ALS disease difficult. To develop an assay strategy for determining the chemical modifications profile of signature proteins (i.e., tau and p-tau181, pTDP-43, , TDP-43, SOD1, and FUS) is a valuable tool. This work is supported and funded by an intramural grant. Read the published peer-reviewed paper pertinent to this subject here: Exosomal TAR DNA binding protein 43 profile in canine model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a preliminary study in developing blood-based biomarker for neurodegenerative disease
4. Dysfunctional proteolytic machinery in neurodegenerative diseases.
- Agbas’ lab along with select other labs demonstrated that platelets could offer to study proteolytic machinery in human blood. Establishing a human platelet-based autophagy assessment is an innovative approach. In the long run, this project will provide a real-time assessment for aberrant protein removal efficiency in AD upon treatment. The aberrant protein aggregation is a major issue in AD and the only available assessment approach is to measure the aberrant protein levels; however, aberrant protein removal system assessment, such as autophagy machinery, is equally important. This approach will enhance the development and testing of new drugs for AD. A blood platelet-based autophagy assessment approach will provide a peripheral cell platform as an important biomolecular tool to design and implement clinical trials that test the activation of autophagy machinery in AD. This project will incrementally move the field of blood-based biomarker development for AD. Read the published, peer-reviewed paper pertinent to this subject (https://jumdjournal.net/article/view/3342).