06 July 2009

In a laboratory on the ground floor of the John Morgan building, senior research investigator Laxminarayana Korutla and research lab technician Trevor Jackson C’07 are trying to determine how a protein in the brain known as NAC-1 interacts with other proteins in our system. In rats, NAC-1 plays a role in regulating addiction to cocaine—rats with more of the protein are less likely to become addicted, and vice versa. NAC-1 may also be an important genetic marker identifying susceptibility to addiction in humans.

To find out, researchers first isolated the protein and deleted the gene that causes the increased sensitization. Now they are trying, through trial and error, to determine how NAC-1 interacts with other genes. “It is theoretical, challenging, painstaking work that moves in incremental steps,” Korutla explains. “Every researcher builds upon the knowledge of others.”

The director of the lab—Scott Mackler C’80 PT’80 Gr’86 M’86, associate professor of medicine and psychiatry in the School of Medicine—first identified NAC-1 in 1996. That was three years before he officially learned he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The condition has since left him “locked in”—mentally alert but unable to move, speak, or breathe without a respirator.

via [Penn Gazette A Life Worth Living](http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/0709/feature1_1.html).

Another article about an amazing man I worked with in college.  I worked with him from fall 1998 through December 1999.

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