“Parkinson & Young” grant awarded to Kalina Mambourg, PhD student at NARILIS and Abaxys Therapeutics

Just one year ago, Valérie Troonbeeckx organized the concert “Parkinson & Young” in support to neurosciences research. Suffering from Parkinson disease herself since she was 36 (now for 11 years), she is deeply involved in activities to raise awareness about this neurodegenerative disease, which typically develops in people over the age of 60, but can also occur at younger ages. All the benefits of this campaign were donated to the UNamur.

Thanks to the generosity of Valérie Troonbeeckx and all the people who have supported her fundraising activity, the UNamur had the chance to award a special research grant to Kalina Mambourg. Kalina is PhD student at the Laboratory of Structural Biological Chemistry (CBS) led by Prof. Johan Wouters and the Namur Medicine & Drug Innovation Center (NAMEDIC). Her PhD project is built on a partnership with the pharmaceutical company Abaxys Therapeutics. This academic-industrial collaboration aims at designing original compounds for targeting neurodegenerescence.

Kalina’s work focuses on the ubiquitin proteosomal system (UPS), a major protein degradation pathway in neurons. Normal function of UPS is to attach ubiquitin molecules to the proteins designated for degradation, followed by proteolysis of tagged proteins. Dysregulation of UPS results in unsuccessful removal of aberrant or misfolded proteins and their intracellular aggregation. Abnormal accumulation of insoluble protein aggregates in neurons are associated to a variety of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. The UPS has therefore become an emerging topic in neurodegeneration and an important target for drug discovery. In particular, the purpose of Kalina’s PhD thesis is to design, synthesize and evaluate potent modulators of selected deubiquitinases.

The “Parkinson & Young” grant offered to Kalina will help to further accelerate the development of highly innovative therapeutic solutions to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Contact: kalina.mambourg@unamur.be & johan.wouters@unamur.be