UNM microbiologists receive grant for cell research

Colton Shone
September 14, 2017 06:30 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Many ailments can affect people as they get older. But UNM researchers just got a boost to help study cell changes, especially as people age.


UNM Medical School's Dr. Vojo Deretic said conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's can happen when something goes wrong with a biological process inside cells. It's called autophagy.

"All our cells have little vacuum cleaners inside, so they go and vacuum clean something that's not supposed to be there," said Deretic, the chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

An $11 million grant from the National Institute of Health will allow Deretic and his team of researchers to probe deeper into this process. The money will be used to create a new center at the school to help with in the study which means renovated and larger lab space.

That's just the first phase of the study.

"We are interested in applying it to treat diseases that have inflammatory components or metabolic components," he said.

Treatment could include jump-starting the cell cleanup process so diseases could be managed and maybe a thing of the past one day.

Deretic said the first phase lasts five years. If things are successful, they'll apply for a second phase, which would give them $11 million more.


Colton Shone

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