Ruud Toonen receives ZonMW TOP grant
Ruud Toonen, in collaboration with Prof. Hoogenraad (UU, Utrecht) and Dr. Rüdiger (UU, Utrecht), receives a 670k€ ZonMW TOP grant to study the role of axonal transport in neurodegenerative diseases.
Chaperoning axonal transport in neurodegenerative diseases
Dr. Ruud Toonen (NCA, CNCR, FALW), in collaboration with with Prof. Hoogenraad (UU, Utrecht) and Dr. Rüdiger (UU, Utrecht) received a 670k€ ZonMW TOP grant to study the role of axonal transport in neurodegenerative diseases.
“Worldwide millions of people suffer from neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In the absence of effective treatment, this presents a staggering health-care burden in patient numbers and costs for society. The pharmaceutical focus for treatments for AD has been on reducing Abeta levels; however, with little success. Hence, we need to explore alternative strategies to target this disease for more successful therapy”: Toonen explains. “It is becoming evident that defects in axonal transport underlie many mental disorders. That is exactly why we study these processes: we want to understand the etiology of disorders such as AD to be able to come up with novel therapeutic targets”.
The program aims to understand axonal transport mechanisms in healthy and AD neurons focusing on Tau function and Tau protein regulation by the chaperone protein Hsp90. Toonen: “pathological changes in Tau (hyperphosphorylation) result in Tau aggregation causing disruptions in microtubule-based transport. We will study the crucial role of the Hsp90 chaperone complex in Tau clearance and how Hsp90 inhibitors reduce levels of phosphorylated Tau in AD models with the ultimate aim to arrest disease progression in AD patients”
“To successfully study these mechanisms, we joined forces with the research groups of Prof. Hoogenraad and Dr. Rüdiger at the Utrecht University, experts in cellular transport and Hsp90 mechanisms”: Toonen states. Toonen expects that the knowledge they will gain from this project will significantly contribute to the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and may provide new strategies for intervention and treatment.