Molecular chaperones as agents of the ageing process

21 June 2018

This project looked at molecular chaperones as agents of the ageing process, with the ultimate goal of developing therapeutic drugs to combat ageing and age-related disorders and disease.

The project had three aims:

1. To use a mouse model of MND as a general model for the ageing process in order to determine how the chaperone activity of sHsps is affected by ageing.

2.To establish whether boosting the chaperone activity of sHsps is an effective means of combating the protein aggregation associated with MND, and therefore ageing.

3.To use these outcomes as preliminary data towards developing a research project that investigates the role of chaperone proteins in ageing, that will be submitted to the NHMRC.


The investigators made encouraging headway in to each of the listed aims. For aim 1, It was observed that molecular chaperones were less abundant in their soluble form during aging. The results from aim 2 suggest that small heat shock proteins are effective at protecting against aggregation associated with MND. Collectively these two results suggest that while our bodies systems are capable of protecting us against insult due to protein accumulation, an aged neuron may not have the same capacity to do so as a young neuron.

This project allowed the construction of a MND mouse tissue bank with tissue taken from different aged mice and frozen for later use. This tissue bank has been used by multiple students and research assistants, and is a valuable resource for studying age related processes.

Dr Justin Yerbury, University of Wollongong

Co-investigators: Dr Heath Eckroyd

Age Matters investment: $40,000