Prof. Neville Vassallo from the Department of Physiology & Biochemistry was an invited speaker at the 10th Targeting Mitochondria Congress, held in Berlin and organised by the World Mitochondria Society.
The congress dealt with the latest cutting-edge research on mitochondrial dysfunction and related diseases, including ageing, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions. Congress attendees hailed from diverse professions, from basic research scientists to bio-tech consultants and clinical physicians.
In his presentation entitled “Amyloid Pores - A New Class of Mitochondrial Porins?”, Prof. Vassallo gave delegates an overview of research work being actively conducted by his team at the Centre for Molecular Medicine & Biobanking, University of Malta. This work has been recently published Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes and ACS Chemical Neuroscience. These publications are part of a larger collaborative effort between the University of Malta, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Uinversity of Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, on developing innovative medicines for neurodegenerative disorders.
Prof. Vassallo described how toxic aggregates of proteins involved in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are able to punch nanometre-sized holes in mitochondria, the energy-producing powerhouses of neurons, leading to severe disruption of mitochondrial function and eventually neuronal cell death. Importantly, targeting this fundamental mechanism may open up a new therapeutic avenue to treat these devastating, and as yet incurable, brain disorders.