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Extremophiles may help mitigate TDP43 aggregation in ALS

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rare but devastating neurodegenerative disease. While there are no known cures for the disease, one of the most reliable causes of the disease is the aggregation of a protein called TDP43 in the brain. Although the reason for this aggregation is still under investigation, treatments which aim to inhibit the aggregation of these proteins seem promising in slowing down the disease's progression. Seeing as the brain undergoes extreme stress during ALS, I was interested in seeing if Ectoine, an extremophile stress solute which helps reduce cellular stress for organisms living in extreme environments, could provide similar protective properties for cells under stress from ALS. By exposing human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells overexpressing TDP43 to various levels of ectoine, I was able to determine that it does have neuroprotective qualities as it successfully reduced the amount of TDP43 protein aggregation. The protective nature of extremolytes provides an interesting avenue for future neurodegenerative research, suggesting the possibility of further uses and investigation into the supportive properties these unique organisms can provide.