Natalia do Carmo Ferreira de Araujo

Grant Title: Evaluation of new anti-prion drugs: from drug design to therapeutic efficacy against human prions in vitro, ex-vivo and in vivo

Location: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH/NIAID

Grant Year: 2020



This project is focused on testing the efficacy of new anti-prion drugs that were designed based on the structure of a potential compound previously characterized by our group (Ferreira et al, 2014; Ferreira et al, 2017). All of these new compounds are able to strongly inhibit PrPRes formation in ScN2a cells infected with the rodent RML prion strain. Using RT-QuIC, we have also been able to test human samples as sources of prions. So far, we have found that most of the newly designed compounds inhibit amyloid fibril formation in RT-QuIC reactions seeded with brain homogenates from patients with sCJD, GSS and FFI. Our goal is to test these new drugs in laboratory grown human brain tissue (cerebral organoids) infected with sCJD and, finally, to test the safety and efficacy of the most promising compounds in prion-infected mouse models.

About the Researchers:

Dr. Ferreira received her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH. She has devoted her career to investigating new therapies to treat prion diseases and more recently, she is also interested in developing diagnostic tools to detect neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer and prion diseases at the early stages of the disease, where therapeutic intervention is more likely to be successful.

Recipient of:

The Strides for CJD Research Grant

Contributed by: The Families of the CJD Foundation

Funds raised by the annual Strides for CJD run/walk have been applied to research grants awarded since 2016.

The CJD Foundation Grant

Contributed by: The Families of the CJD Foundation

Funds donated by supporters of the CJD Foundation have been applied to research grants awarded since 2009.