Unlocking the mysteries behind disease
Today, a growing number of scientists are turning to cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) as a critical tool in their research. Already, the method is leading to major scientific breakthroughs, helping researchers to unravel the mysteries behind a wide range of diseases.
For example, protein aggregation is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s, yet the mechanisms linking aggregation to neurotoxicity have been poorly understood, in part, because we have limited information on the structure of these aggregates. Determining the atomic structures of these aggregates is crucial to understanding their formation, clearance, and spread in the human body.
Using cryo-EM, scientists can analyze aggregate structures at molecular resolution within pristinely preserved cellular environments. The results are shedding new light on the cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration, which one day will lead to better treatments for patients with a range of neurological disorders.