Autophagy is a process which helps to destroy bacteria and viruses after infection. But when this fails or defects occur, it can give rise to conditions such as Dementia and Huntington’s Disease.

New research by the University of Plymouth has shed light on the mechanisms behind autophagy and how it progresses – particularly relating to a process called liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS).

Dr Luo, whose work primarily focuses on finding new autophagy pathways, as well as novel treatments for dementia and huntington’s disease.

“By understanding more about autophagy and the details of the processes involved, we can identify what might be going wrong, and therefore where to target when it comes to tackling neurodegenerative diseases. This research is a major step in helping us to do that. The next step for us is to look at applying the science within human cells, so we can further clarify how the protein interaction and the new DAXX function are relevant to neurodegenerative conditions including HD, and whether we can target it to help prevent disease progression.

“HD is an inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It has a broad impact on a person’s functional abilities and currently there is no cure, so it’s vital that we continue our work to find out how and why the disease develops.”