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Biology Students Lead Institution in Alzheimer’s Research

February 21, 2023


NEWBERRY — Two Newberry College biology students have paved the way for mammalian cell culture research at the institution.


Over the last year, Kimberly Fuhrman '22 (Clinton) and senior Daniel Oluwarotimi (Lagos, Nigeria) studied how Alzheimer’s Disease begins and progresses. Their research was supported by South Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities’ 2022 Undergraduate Student & Faculty Research Program. They presented their findings Feb. 16 at the consortium’s symposium in Spartanburg.


“What is really exciting is that this research brings mammalian cell culture to Newberry College, a powerful tool that has not been successfully offered here before,” said Dr. Lindsy Boateng, assistant professor of biology and the students’ research advisor. “This opens the door for many new opportunities in cell biology and genetics research that can be expanded to environmental impacts and developmental studies as well.”


Fuhrman and Oluwarotimi examined how two cellular proteins — p53 and Tau, which are associated with cancer and with Alzheimer's Disease — interact under various conditions. The first, p53, controls the cell division cycle and prevents uncontrolled cell growth that leads to cancer. The second, Tau, forms abnormal aggregates that partially explain why brain cells gradually die off in Alzheimer's.


“If we figure out how the protein tangles form in the first place, we may provide insight into how to prevent Alzheimer's Disease, or at least its progression,” said Boateng.

Fuhrman examined the location of the proteins using a fluorescence microscope in a dark room, and watched for changes in movement patterns under different conditions. Oluwarotimi examined the interactions between these proteins using protein purification and detection techniques.


“Their results suggest that we may have detected an interaction, but this research needs to continue to confirm the results and perform more experiments,” said Boateng.


SCICU provided $8,868 to support the research, which began in summer 2022 and ran through the fall. The consortium advocates on behalf of 21 private institutions across South Carolina.


Photos: (Top) Oluwarotimi at work in the lab; (Right) Boateng, Oluwarotimi and Fuhrman at the SCICU Symposium, Feb. 16, 2023.

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