Congratulations to MPharm Year 3 student, Prijay Bakrania, who has been awarded a Vacation Scholarship entitled ‘Does the expression of Nrf2 change with age in humans?’

The project, under the supervision of STRAND member Dr Greg Scutt, examines Nrf2 an important protein which controls a cells ability to breakdown toxins, poisons and some drugs. Research conducted over the past 10 years has found that the levels of this protein in animals declines with age. This may make older animals more susceptible to harm from these substances.

Dr Scutt said “We are not sure what happens to the levels of Nrf2 in humans, but if it also declines with age, then it could make older individuals more susceptible to the harmful effects of prescribed medications. The aim of this research is to establish whether the age effects the levels of Nrf2 in human white blood cells. We plan do this by taking a small sample of blood from volunteers of different ages and then measuring in white blood cells 1) the level of Nrf2 protein and 2) the level of messenger RNA which contains the code for the Nrf2 protein. There are several known factors which can affect Nrf2 levels, and we want to take these into account when analyzing the data. These include medical history and medication. Some individuals also have a slightly different genetic form Nrf2, or an associated protein called Keap-1 which can affect the activity of Nrf2 found in cells. We also plan to check which genetic form of these proteins volunteers possess so that they can be taken into consideration during the analysis. We also plan to measure the levels of Keap-1 messenger RNA and protein in white blood cells to determine if they change with age.”

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