Rodrigo Morales, PhD


Department of Neurology. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Grant Year: 


Currently, there is no cure for any human or animal prion diseases as the identification of drugs able to halt or reverse pathological progression has proven to be difficult. Prion diseases in humans and animals are caused by different conformations or “strains” of the prion infectious agent.

Unfortunately, prion strain diversity is a major problem for the development of a universal anti-prion treatment. This is due to different prion conformations interacting with putative drugs in a strain-specific fashion. Another problem lies in the lack of appropriate systems to test compound libraries.

We have previously shown that the ultrasensitive Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification (PMCA) technology faithfully replicates the strain-specific signatures of multiple prion agents in an accelerated manner.

The purpose of this project is to develop a high throughput PMCA platform able to screen drug libraries. This will allow us to identify strain-specific anti-prion molecules with therapeutic potentials against different human and animal prion diseases.

About the Researcher:

Rodrigo Morales, PhD
Department of Neurology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dr. Rodrigo Morales received his doctoral degree (PhD) from University of Chile in 2009 (thesis work fully performed at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston). Currently, he is an Associate Professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). His main research interests involve studying the molecular basis of infectious prions, specifically prion strain diversity and interspecies transmission dynamics. He is also leading several funded programs dedicated to study the role of amyloid beta protein in Alzheimer’s disease and the pathological consequences of the cross-talk between different misfolded proteins. He has published more than 50 articles in the field of protein misfolding disorders.

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