Unlocking the Code
Amino acid sequence plays an essential role in 3D protein structure. We unlock this code by discovering how intermediate conformational folding pathways that cause protein misfolding play a role in disease.
Our research efforts concentrate on elucidating the mechanism of protein folding and applying the mechanistic information to medical problems. We are currently creating new immunotherapies to fight amyloid fibril formation.
Imaging & Diagnostics
We optimize immunogold electron microscopy (IGEM) and other methods to enable the diagnostics of protein misfolding diseases like ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and ATTR Amyloidosis (amyloid polyneuropathy).
Avijit (Avi) Chakrabartty was born in Kolkata but raised in Edmonton, where he attended the University of Alberta to obtain his BSc degree in Med. Lab Science and his MSc degree in Experimental Pathology. He completed his PhD in Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Toronto in 1990. Avi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University where he held a fellowship award from the Medical Research Council of Canada. It was at Stanford, where he developed an interest in protein folding and worked on both theoretical and experimental aspects of the helix-coil transition in polypeptides. In 1994, Avi took up his position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto and Senior Scientist at the University Health Network.
The central focus of Avi’s lab is protein misfolding and disease.
The inability of cellular machinery to clear misfolded proteins is a recurring theme in many diseases that run the gamut from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer. They are concentrating on neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), prion disease, and transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis disease. Their research endeavours involve two approaches. First, they invented a novel technique, which is termed STOMP, to investigate microscopic pathologic anomalies in neurodegeneration that are ≥ one cubic micron. STOMP combines two-photon microscopy with photochemical affinity labelling and mass spectrometry. Second, they have utilized protein structure based design methods to produce therapeutic/diagnostic antibodies and small molecules for ALS, prion disease and TTR amyloidosis. Avi has published one hundred scientific papers and holds several patents on therapeutic and diagnostic methods to combat protein misfolding disease.