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Alumni of the P.PORTO wins the Young Biophysicist Award 2021

Ana Rita Araújo, ISEP alumni, Engineering School of P.PORTO, was distinguished as a result of the discovery of a cork compound that can help in the fight against Alzheimer’s

Ana Rita Araújo, alumni of the Engineering School of P.PORTO, and researcher at the 3B’s Research Group, was distinguished with the Young Biophysicist Award 2021, awarded by the Portuguese Biophysics Society. The award refers to the article “Vescalagin and castalagin reduce the toxicity of amyloid-beta42 oligomers through the remodeling of its secondary structure”, developed for the purpose of the PhD carried out at 3B’s Research Group.

The researcher explains that the purpose of the work developed was to "extract natural compounds, in this case cork, and understand their effects from the perspective of Alzheimer’s disease". "Basically, I was able to prove that these compounds extracted from cork have an ability to inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which is found in Alzheimer’s patients. By inhibiting this peptide organization [structures formed based on the connection between two or more amino acid molecules] makes it less toxic and may cause, with more research in the future, the inhibition of the disease ", she explains.

In an initial phase of the investigation, Ana Rita Araújo points out that this may be the "first step towards an important discovery" in the fight against Alzheimer’s, as it has not yet been tested on an animal model. "This requires another type of work that will be developed in the future, as we want to continue with this project. It is necessary to understand, on a more biophysical level, how we can inhibit the aggregation of this peptide, what are the strategies that we can use and that these compounds are bioactive under these conditions. This makes it a relevant discovery in this field ", said Ana Rita Araújo.

The 3B’s researcher will now present the study at the Congress of the Portuguese Biophysical Society, which will take place in Coimbra, via Zoom.