Principal Investigator: Daniel Ory, MD (WUSTL Internal Medicine)
Co-Investigator: Mark Sands, PhD (WUSTL Internal Medicine)
Niemann-Pick C1 disease is a progressive pediatric neurodegenerative disease for which there are no FDA-approved therapies. Mutations in the Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) gene are responsible for most cases of the disease, which is characterized by abnormal accumulation of cholesterol in brain cells. Recent studies have shown that the most prevalent disease causing mutation results in an NPC1 protein that is misfolded and, as a consequence, is rapidly degraded and therefore not delivered to the proper site within the cell. For this pilot project, we will test whether reducing the levels of a cellular quality control protein will increase the levels of the mutant NPC1 protein, reduce cholesterol storage, and improve brain cell function. These experiments will be performed in a new genetically engineered mouse developed at Washington University that expresses the NPC1 mutation that causes human disease. Information learned from these studies may lead to development of treatments for this devastating disease.