Research is First to Suggest That Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a Prion Disease

By Pete Farley (UCSF News Center) on December 02, 2016

A shared biological mechanism may drive the progression of both Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative condition associated with repeated concussions and brain trauma, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco scientists.

Both AD and CTE are classified as “tauopathies,” a category of diseases characterized by the improper folding and clumping together of a protein called tau (rhymes with “how”) inside the nerve cells of the brain. The resulting tau aggregates, known as neurofibrillary tangles, are toxic to neurons and are thought to be responsible for the behavioral changes and cognitive decline seen in both disorders.

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Alzheimer UCSF prion tau Kampmann Chen

Postdoctoral fellow John Chen in the Kampmann lab received a Research Fellowship from the Alzheimer's Association. Together with Diane Nathaniel, Dr. Chen investigates cellular pathways controlling the prion-like spread of tau aggregation, which is emerging as a key driver of disease progression in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases involving tau, including frontotemporal dementia. The Kampmann lab combines CRISPR-based genetic screens with biochemistry and cell biology. The pathways identified in this project are potential therapeutic targets in Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies.

Kampmann Lab Postdoc John Chen Named Longevity Fellow

Dr. John Chen, postdoctoral fellow in the Kampmann lab at the IND, won a QB3/Calico Longevity Fellowship. Dr. Chen works with Diane Nathaniel in the Kampmann lab to uncover cellular pathways controlling aggregation and prion-like spread of the protein tau, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases. The team is using an innovative, CRISPR-based functional genomics approach co-developed by Dr. Kampmann. The funding from the QB3/Calico program will support the implementation of these experiments in human iPSC-... Read more ...

Stepahnie See, Graduate Student, Kampmann and Gestwicki Labs


Stephanie See, a PhD student in the Kampmann and Gestwicki labs at the IND, was awarded the prestigious National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. Stephanie's research is focused on the cellular mechanisms controlling the aggregation and prion-like spread of the protein alpha-synuclein, which is associated with Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Her interdisciplinary project combines two innovative approaches: (1) the CRISPR/Cas9-based genetic screening technology, co-developed by IND faculty Dr. Martin Kampmann, and (2) a biochemical platform to investigate interactions with molecular chaperones, established by IND faculty Dr. Jason... Read more ...