Dr. Eileen Kennedy, Georgia Athletic Association Professor and Interim Associate Head for Education in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, continues her prolific career trajectory. She recently received a U.S. Patent along with a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, while publishing a scientific research paper.
The patent, titled “Disruption of the wave3 protein complex for suppression of invasion and metastasis” was issued for the development of novel compounds created by Dr. Kennedy that block cancer cells from migrating and metastasizing to other parts of the body. They may potentially be used as part of a treatment regimen to reduce the overall tumor burden and cancer progression in patients.
Dr. Kennedy’s Michael J. Fox Foundation grant was in the amount of $399,986 for two-and-a-half years. This project aims to explain the mechanisms of allosteric regulation of Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) as it relates to Parkinson’s disease (PD) by developing constrained peptides that disrupt LRRK2 signaling and characterize their cellular effects. Although symptomatic therapies are available for patients with Parkinson’s, there currently is no curative treatment for the disease. Several LRRK2-specific kinase catalytic inhibitors have been developed, but many have side effects, including kidney and lung toxicity [1, 2], and none of the inhibitors have yet received clinical approval for the treatment. Therefore, alternative targeting strategies need to be explored to effectively downregulate or inhibit misregulated LRRK2 function. Her research will demonstrate the utility of constrained peptides as downstream inhibitors to target pathogenic LRRK2 activity and may provide an alternative approach to target specific pathways activated by LRRK2.
Finally, Dr. Kennedy published “Targeting Rab-RILPL interactions as a strategy to downregulate pathogenic LRRK2 in Parkinson’s disease” as a part of Women in Peptide Science feature presented in the Journal of Peptide Science. The paper is similar in scope to the research she is conducting with the Michael J. Fox grant.