Studying how calcium channel blockers can protect against brain disease

4 minute read

image of brain neural network

Changes in the levels of calcium present in brain cells have been linked to cell damage. By inhibiting the influx of calcium, we can reduce the likelihood of getting diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS.

The goals of this research project are to:

  1. Optimise the activity of a compound found to selectively block the activity of the N-type calcium channel (NCC).
  2. Characterise its subtype-specificity and affinity, as well as study the mode of action in in vitro and In vivo.

The details

Many neurodegenerative disorders – like Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – are associated with damage and death to the brain’s neuronal cells.

Changes in the levels of the mineral calcium within these cells have been shown to play an important role in this cell damage.

In particular, increased calcium levels in the cell’s cytoplasm are responsible for over-excitation and cellular stress of neurons.

Calcium enters the cell through ion channels in the cells wall. Therefore, modulating the level of calcium influx through neuron-specific calcium ion channels, to counteract increased intracellular calcium concentrations, is a promising target for a general neuroprotective approach.

The aim of this project is the optimise the activity of a compound found to selectively block the activity of the N-type calcium channel (NCC) and to characterise its subtype-specificity and affinity, as well as study the mode of action in in vitro and in vivo experiments.

Graduate researcher profile: Esther Wollert

Picture of Esther Wollert

I was always fascinated by the complexity and interconnectivity of biological processes. I started studying biology at the University of Bonn with the main focus on molecular biology and its application. During my time as a student, I gathered my main experience in three different research areas: general cell biology, age-associated diseases and finally neuroscience. Fortunately, I was able to find a project in a field combining my preferred components of all previous research areas and I could join the project, incorporated in the JUMPA Joint PhD program, at the Forschungszentrum Jülich in March 2020.

Supervision team

Related items