U of C neuroscience student wins research award

By Babur Ilchi, November 6 2014 —

Third-year neuroscience student Yasamin Mahjoub was awarded for her research on iron neurotoxicity in brain cells at the Markin Research Symposium in Health and Wellness.

Mahjoub won the oral presentation award in early-October, which includes a $250 grant. Mahjoub tested different drugs and pregnancy hormones to see if they combat the effects of iron neurotoxicity.

Mahjoub said her research has important implications for multiple sclerosis (MS).

“When we think of MS we think of an inflammatory demyelinating condition, but there’s a neurodegenerative component. There’s iron accumulation in the brains of patients and we think that this actually contributes to this degeneration and disease progression,” Mahjoub said.

Demyelination occurs when the fatty wrapping on neurons is stripped away, slowing down transmission speeds. It is often caused by MS.

Mahjoub said she wasn’t able to find a protective effect using pregnancy hormones, but had success with the antibiotic minocycline.

“I found a protective effect against iron with that drug. The next steps were focusing on how that might happen. The results with minocycline are pretty exciting because it does have neurological implications, and there are trials going on right now, so I think it’s very relevant,” Mahjoub said.

She’ll now finish her research on minocycline and test more drugs for their effectiveness in combatting iron toxicity.

“I think it’s a pretty big step. It’ll take a lot to get through an inventory of drugs and screen for them,” Mahjoub said.

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