ALBANY, N.Y. (February 9, 2007) -- Dr. Zhen Huang, a researcher in the University at Albany Chemistry Department, was awarded a $135,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to identify potential drug candidates for neurodegenerative conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Dr. Huang is a member of a team of researchers in Professor Li Niu's chemistry laboratory who are studying a special family of proteins that are crucial to brain functioning, such as memory and learning. Their abnormal behavior has been implicated in stroke, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Currently, in more than 90 percent of ALS cases, there is no known cause and no effective cure. Riluzole, the only drug available, prolongs a patient's life on the average of two months. However, the life expectancy of ALS patients is only about three years after proper diagnosis.
Huang, who joined Niu's laboratory in April 2003, was awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship from MDA. He arrived at UAlbany from Xiamen, China, and was previously at Wuhan University.