Friday, August 21, 2015

UMass professor awarded $419,000 grant to study gene's role in infertility, Alzheimer's
AMHERST - A University of Massachusetts professor has received a $419,00 federal grant to study how early exposure to estrogen, as well as environmental pollutants called dioxins, may impair the regulation of a certain gene and impact a women's fertility.
She will also look at how any impairment of the gene caused by exposure to estrogen during fetal development may be linked to late-onset Alzheimer's.
Sandra Petersen, who earlier this year was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring by the White House, will use the grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to continue studies on CUG binding protein 2 (CUGBP2), a little known gene that she and colleagues identified and have shown that exposure to estrogen compounds and dioxin impairs its normal regulation.
The grant will help them study how this impairment of regulation works. Doxins are known to have a disruptive effect on estrogen activity in the early stages of life, and such disruptions can led to cancer and other health issues later in life.
"Our findings will provide new molecular insights into how estrogen, and perhaps dioxin, exposure during development may play a role in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases later in life. This information may help in the development of new preventative strategies or therapeutic drugs," Petersen said in release.
According to the release, Petersen has found the gene behaves differently in males and females in the brain region that controls ovulation in rodent models.
Her group will initially study whether CUGBP2 impairment by neonatal estrogen or dioxin exposure during development in mice is responsible for infertility or subfertility observed in adulthood, according to the release.
Because CUGPB2 regulates neural cell death, according to the release, the researchers want to determine whether estrogen regulation of CUGBP2 may contribute to the difference in rates of non-age-related Alzheimer's disease seen in men and women as well.
Petersen, a professor in the university's veterinary and animal sciences department, is also principal investigator and project director for two other current NIH grants totaling $3.8 million.

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