Specific tests for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnosis are currently unavailable, despite AD being the leading cause of dementia. One hallmark of AD progression is the aggregation of tau proteins into paired helical filaments and neurofibrillary tangles, which is accelerated by the hyperphosphorylation of Tau proteins. However, the mechanism by which the hyperphosphorylated tau accelerates protein aggregation is not completely understood. Furthermore, detecting and disrupting such aggregated forms through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) remains a significant bottleneck in developing AD diagnostics and therapeutics. At the same time, quantum dots (QDs) have shown tremendous potential in penetrating the BBB to diagnose brain cancer, as well as detecting and disrupting protein aggregates in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. QDs are an attractive diagnostic material due to their fluorescence-emitting capabilities, nanoscale size that allows penetration of the BBB, chemical stability, solubility, and facile synthesis. However, QDs have not yet been assessed for their ability to detect and disrupt hyperphosphorylated tau tangles. Hence, the aims of this project are two-fold: 1) to unravel the mechanisms and energetic barriers of normal and hyperphosphorylated tau protein aggregation by building three-dimensional atomistic models of aggregated structures and performing classical and enhanced sampling molecular dynamics simulations on these models; 2) to predict the potential of QDs in binding to and disrupting hyperphosphorylated tau tangles though polarized ligand docking and free-energy calculations. Upon identification of potential QD-binding signatures, these QDs will be synthesized and tested in vitro and in vivo through collaborative efforts with the goal of translating this work into clinical diagnostic applications for AD in the future.
Figure 1. Microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) functions in the healthy brain (left) and a brain with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (right). Self-association and excessive post-translational modifications of Tau proteins result in the formation of neurofibrillary tangles and cause neurodegeneration in AD patients. Targeting the tau aggregates using Quantum Dots could help develop potential diagnostics and/or therapeutics for AD.
Free-space Polarization-selective Microcavity based on Chiral Metasurfaces
Summary Developing a new type of Fabry-Pérot cavity that allows improved control of the atoms’ emission into the cavity mode will result in enhancement of the efficiency and fidelity of quantum state transfer from photons to atoms and back. This in turn can be used to improve the performance of quantum networks and repeaters, as […]
September 19, 2019
Structured Light Applications in Vision Science
Eye diseases such as macular degeneration can have a devastating impact on quality of life. Early detection and treatment are thus crucial for preventing irreversible vision loss. A previous study found that the human eye can detect differences in ‘structured’ light beams. Such light beams are composed of a coherent superposition of differently polarized planar […]
April 24, 2023
Carbon Nanotube Monolayer Josephson Junction Superconducting Qubit
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are a promising material for use in Josephson-Junctions (JJs) given their unique properties, such as high electrical conductivity, pristine surface, inherent nanoscale dimension, and silicon-compatible processing
June 1, 2017
Coherent magnon generation, magnon condensation, and quantum spin liquids via spin pumping in 2D magnets
Summary Developing hybrid quantum systems is essential to harnessing the complementary advantages of different quantum technology platforms. This necessitates the successful transfer of quantum information between platforms, which can be achieved, e.g., by harnessing magnons, or spin wave excitations, in magnetic materials. Decoherence due to uncontrolled coupling of qubits to the environment remains a fundamental […]
February 1, 2023