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Colloquia Week

Every week, senior researchers in each department at ASDRP give public seminars presenting the current state of the field and disseminating how their research at ASDRP fits into the broader context of the frontiers of modern science and engineering. Colloquia are public events, and anyone can join. Click on the "Join the Colloquia" link to add the event to your calendar.

Research Shorts

Department of Biological, Human and Life Sciences

Tuesdays @ 8:00-9:00 PM PST

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Investigating the effect of alpha-synuclein aggregation in Parkinson’s disease using a transgenic C. Elegan model.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that mainly affects individuals over 65 years old, making up ~2% of the US population. PD, like other neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and multiple system atrophy (MSA), has been linked to the aggregation of misfolded alpha-synuclein (a-syn) proteins in the brain. The misfolding of a-syn is caused by a mutation in the SNCA gene which leads to insoluble aggregates of proteins present in dopaminergic neurons, causing progressive neuronal cell death. Our project is studying the effects of a-syn aggregation in movement and learning in transgenic C. elegan models to understand the underlying effects of alpha-synuclein. We are investigating the potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, a polyphenol with antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, to reduce the aggregation of a-syn and possibly recover movement deficits induced by a-syn aggregation in transgenic C. elegans. Overall, we hope our research will further the development of curcumin as a therapeutic treatment for Parkinson's disease.

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Researcher: Bhumika I., Mission San Jose High School

Advisor: Truong, Molecular & Cell Biology

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease | Alpha-synuclein | C. Elegans | Curcumin | Biology | Assays

Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics

Fridays @ 8:00-9:00 PM PST

Friday, May 28, 2021

 

Inhibition of Fat-Mass and Obesity-associated Protein via Novel Compounds

The fat-mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene, which encodes for the FTO protein, has been found to have strong correlations with obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and heart disease. The protein is associated with metabolic and fat-mass homeostasis due to its mechanism of RNA demethylation. Obesity is ever-growing, and FTO’s linkage has made it an area of interest. As the rate of obesity continues to increase, it is imperative that we try to inhibit the FTO protein. Our research is meant to produce novel compounds that will bind and inhibit the demethylation of RNA by the FTO protein. Our in silico work found structural trends between the binding of compounds to the binding domains in the FTO protein and novel hit compounds that can be developed for in vitro study. The inhibition of the FTO protein has opened up the possibility of hindering the obesity epidemic.

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Researchers: Daniell H., Academy of the Canyons High School &  Shreya S., Irvington High School

Advisor: Brah, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry

Keywords: Scaffolds | FTO Protein | Inhibition | Computational Chemistry | Novel Compounds | Binding Domains

Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics

Fridays @ 8:00-9:00 PM PST

Friday, May 28, 2021

 

Biochemical Study of Benfotiamine & Diabetic Neuropathy Activity in C. Elegans Models

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in individuals with diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) levels can lead to the buildup of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which injure nerves throughout the body, resulting in difficulty walking, numbness, or sharp pain. Although there isn't a cure yet, treatments are vital to managing the symptoms of this condition. Benfotiamine (BFT) is a synthetic version of vitamin B1; the natural version, thiamine, can be obtained from whole grains, and deficiency is linked to diabetes. Benfotiamine turns into thiamine in the body and can supplement thiamine. BFT can clear AGE buildup, by redirecting AGE precursors to the pentose-phosphate pathway and enhancing the enzyme transketolase. However, it it has a low bioavailability, preventing it from being absorbed well enough by cells to manage the condition's symptoms. The aim of this research is to study how benfotiamine can be made more bioavailable through the synthesis of a prodrug. Benfotiamine and thiamine were tested in vitro and on C. elegans in comparison to determine their effectiveness in combating diabetic neuropathy. The hope is to help thousands of individuals with diabetic neuropathy through this biochemical pharmaceutical approach..

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Researchers: Simi G., BASIS Independent Silicon Valley

Advisor: Renganathan, Medicinal Biochemistry

Keywords: Diabetic neuropathy | Prodrug | Bioavailability | Benfotiamine | AGEs

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Wednesdays @ 8:00-9:00 PM PST

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Predicting Criminal Activity using AI/ML Techniques

Criminal Activity is common around the United States from the most urban to most rural states. When analyzing crime data, It’s important to look at certain demographic, geographic, and other conditions that could factor into an individual’s conviction. Here we use Neural Networks on the California OpenJustice Arrest Dataset to find the Criminal rates of the counties in California in attempts to create a criminal index, to help with moving decisions, travel routes, police resource allocation, etc.

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Researcher: Akash I., Mission San Jose High School

Advisor: McMahan, Quantum Computing

Keywords: Criminal Activity | Artificial Intelligence | AI | Prediction