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Researchers to study naturally-occurring antioxidant

May 9, 2014

The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) has received a two-year, $420,000 exploratory grant from the Director’s Office of the National Institutes of Health to investigate antioxidants and why direct administration of antioxidants for human disease have not been more successful.

Julian Lombard, Ph.D., professor of physiology at MCW, is the principal investigator of the grant. Aron Geurts, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology, is co-investigator.

Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals in the human body, which are associated with cell breakdown and disease. However, clinical trials using direct administration of antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E have not yielded consistent results in combating or preventing disease.

In this study, Dr. Lombard’s team will explore the protein Nrf2, which is a master antioxidant and cell protective protein that is critical in combating oxidant stress. Nrf2 also regulates hundreds of genes related not only to oxidant state, but other physiological processes. Dr. Lombard will characterize cardiovascular and renal variables in rats in which Dr. Geurts’ laboratory has “knocked out” the Nrf2 gene using gene editing technology. Characterization of cardiovascular and renal variables in these Nrf2 “knockout” rats will provide valuable information to help us understand the function of the protein and its effect on physiological systems and organs.

The results of the study will provide not only a better understanding of this key protein, but could also possibly lead to exploration of Nrf2 as a treatment to combat oxidant stress in human disease.

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