IU scientists to participate in Ask Me Anything session on Reddit

On Dec. 7, three IU scientists will invite the public to “Ask Me Anything.”

Hui-Chen Lu, Yousuf Ali and Hunter Allen will participate in a Q-and-A session from 1 to 2 p.m. EST on r/Science, the science message board of Reddit.

Yu and colleagues will participate in PLOS Science Wednesdays AMA Series on Dec. 7.

Lu and colleagues will participate in PLOS Science Wednesdays AMA Series on Dec. 7.

The massively popular social media platform, which hosts daily Ask Me Anything sessions, or “AMAs,” regularly attracts an audience of over 10,000 people to these online events.

The session is organized by the online peer reviewed journal PLOS as part of the PLOS Science Wednesdays AMA Series.

Earlier this year, Lu and colleagues published a paper in PLOS reporting evidence that the enzyme NMNAT2 appears to exert a protective effect on memory.

The study is significant since the research could affect how scientists understand the mechanisms behind a range of neurodegenerative diseases known as “proteinopathies,” which include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, as well as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

These diseases are called as proteinopathies because they occur when proteins “misfold,” causing them to grow “sticky” and clump up in the brain. These clumps of proteins are often referred to as “plaques,” or “tangles.”

A Gill Professor in the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, Lu is lead author on the study. Ali and Hunter are co-authors and members of Lu’s lab at IU.

The IU scientists and colleagues’ study found that NMNAT2, or nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2, appears to prevent or repair the errors that cause these clumps by binding to misfolded proteins. The enzyme also appears to help protect neurons from stress caused by over-excitation.

Hui-Chen Lu is the lead author on the study that is the subject of the AMA.

Hui-Chen Lu is the lead author on the study that is the subject of the AMA.

As part of the study reported in PLOS, the scientists observed that increasing levels of NMNAT2 in mice whose brains had been damaged by Tau — a protein that correlates with neurodegenerative disease progression — reduced levels of the toxic protein. Significantly, the scientists increased NMNAT2 levels in the hippocampus, a regain of the brain related to learning and memory.

A fourth author of the paper will also join the AMA: Hugo Bellen, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

To submit a question for the AMA, visit r/Science starting at 9 a.m. EST Dec. 7. Audience members are also invited to join the conversation during the AMA on Twitter using the hashtag #PLOSredditAMA.

A downloadable app is available from Reddit to ask questions or submit comments during the AMA.

This page will be updated with a direct link to the session after it goes live.

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