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La Spada, Cortes present at annual SfN meeting

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Albert La Spada, MD, PhD, and Constanza Cortes, PhD represented the Duke Neurology Department and helped advance our understanding of neuroscience at the annual meeting for the Society of Neuroscience (SfN) held last week in Washington, DC.

La Spada chaired the nanosymposium, “Novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders,” hosting a dozen speakers showcasing novel approaches to treat neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and tauopathies.

Cortes, meanwhile, outlined novel mechanisms of brain aging and disease with the talk, “Enhanced skeletal muscle proteostasis as a determinant of CNS protein quality control and neural function in the aging brain.” Her work was selected as part of the 2017 Hot Topics for the meeting.

Earlier that week, La Spada and graduate student Anastasia Gromova also presented at the Kennedy's Disease Association meeting, a satellite organization of the SfN, which connects Kennedy disease patients and their families, with clinicians and researchers. Kennedy's disease is a rare neuromuscular disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion mutation in the androgen receptor gene, a discovery  made by Dr. Albert La Spada in 1991 when he was a graduate student. The La Spada lab continues working on Kennedy's Disease; Gromova, a current graduate student in the La Spada lab, gave talks on their work on modeling KD using induced pluripotent stem cells differentiated into motor neurons and skeletal muscle in order to understand how muscle contributes to motor neuron degeneration in this disease.