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Funded Studies

Michael Sierks, PhD

Professor, Chemical Engineering Department at Arizona State University

Michael Sierks received his BS in chemical engineering from Stanford University and his MS in chemical engineering from Colorado State University. He also holds a PhD in chemical engineering from Iowa State University and completed postdoctoral work at Carlsberg Laboratory in Denmark. His research interests center around engineering proteins to perform a desired function, particularly for biomedical applications. By utilizing various protein engineering techniques, his work seeks to tailor proteins to control important biological processes such as inflammation, viral adhesion and tumor formation. One application his lab is working on is to develop a potential diagnosis and treatment for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a debilitating neurological disease. The protein, alpha-synuclein, forms aggregates or Lewy Bodies inside affected cells of patients with PD. Dr. Sierks is developing antibodies that can target various forms of the alpha-synuclein protein and inhibit formation of the Lewy Bodies aggregates. These antibodies can be used for in vivo imaging to study the progression of PD, and also as a potential therapeutic by targeting the specific alpha-synuclein protein forms either inside or outside of nerve cells. The lab is using a similar approach to develop antibodies useful for studying and treating Alzheimer's Disease (AD), another debilitating neurodegenerative disease affecting the elderly population. With AD, the relevant target protein is beta-amyloid, which forms plaque deposits around nerve cells in the brain leading to cell atrophy and death. Dr. Sierks is developing multifunctional antibodies which can both target specific forms of beta-amyloid and clear it from the brain before it can aggregate into neurotoxic plaques.

Associated Grants

  • Morphology Specific Anti-Synuclein Nanobodies as Therapeutics for PD


  • Identifying and Localizing Toxic Oligomeric A-Syn with Morphology Specific Nanobodies


  • In-vivo SPECT Imaging of Synuclein Aggregation with Morphology Specific Antibody Based Ligands


  • In Vivo SPECT Imaging of Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation with Morphology Specific Antibody Based Ligands


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