The Cappai laboratory research interest is on the key neurodegenerative diseases of Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and Traumatic Brain Injury. The group is studying the key proteins associated with these neurodegenerative diseases - Amyloid Precursor Protein, Amyloid-beta and alpha-synuclein (alpha-SN), to identify the critical molecular interactions and cellular pathways that cause the neuronal dysfunction and death responsible for these diseases, and to develop therapeutic approaches based on targeting these proteins.
The Cappai laboratory has been studying Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease since 1994 their major achievements being (i) discovering that the APP molecule is a major regulator of neuronal copper metabolism, (ii) defining the cellular mechanism of Amyloid-beta toxicity and defining the critical residues involved in mediating toxic activity, (iii) solving the three dimensional structure of the APP N-terminal cysteine rich domain and defining its growth factor and Cu-binding activities, (iv) discovering a novel interaction between dopamine (DA) and alpha-SN that promotes the formation of SDS-stable, soluble and non-amyloidogenic alpha-SN oligomers and thus providing a direct link between DA and alpha-SN in Parkinson's disease.
Current projects include studying the function and metabolism of these proteins, delineating the folding pathways and modulators thereof that lead to misfolded toxic proteins, determining the nature of the toxic species and the development of ligands for the imaging of these proteins. In relation to traumatic brain injury, the group is developing the Amyloid Precursor Protein as a neuroprotective molecule.
Techniques include: Molecular biology, cell biology, protein expression and purification, structural biology, neurochemistry, biophysics, biochemical and chemical assays.
Roberto has published over 160 research papers. He has been an invited speaker to 20 international conferences in the last 10 years. He is a member of the Journal of Neurochemistry editorial board and became an elected member of the International Society for Neurochemistry in 2011. He has been an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow since 2004 and was appointed Professor in 2011.
Dr Laila Roisman (Senior Post Doc)
Dr Sen Han (Post doc)
Dr Su Ling Leong (Post doc)
Andrea Connor (Research Assistant)
MunJoo Chuei (Research Assistant)
Luan Luu (1st year PhD) joint supervision with Joe Ciccotosto
Celeste Mawal (supervised by Joe Ciccotosto)
T: (+61 3) 8344 2556
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