Collaborate 2 Cure
May 22, 2017



KU Clinical Research: Fairway Auditorium
4350 Shawnee Mission Parkway Fairway, KS 66205

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Will a Chaperone Escort Us Toward a Treatment for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

The etiology of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) involves an inter-related series of metabolic insults that impair mitochondrial function and ultimately contribute to sensory neuron degeneration. In complex, chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as DPN, it is increasingly appreciated that effective disease management may not necessarily require targeting a pathway or protein considered to contribute to disease progression. Alternatively, it may prove beneficial to pharmacologically enhance the activity of endogenous neuroprotective pathways to aid neuronal recovery and tolerance to ongoing diabetic stress. To this end, we have synthesized novel small molecules that activate an endogenous cytoprotective response by inhibiting the molecular chaperone, heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90).  Hsp90 is the master regulator of the cytoprotective heat shock response, which upregulates expression of Hsp70 and antioxidant genes. KU-596 is a non-toxic, bioavailable molecule that potently reverses multiple clinical indices of DPN, promotes the recovery and reinnervation of damaged sensory fibers into the epidermis, increases mitochondrial bioenergetics and decreases oxidative stress in models of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. I will briefly highlight insights into the mechanism of action of KU-596 in improving mitochondrial bioenergetics and decreasing oxidative stress in diabetic sensory neurons and provide an update on the clinical trial status of KU-596.

Speaker- Rick Dobrowsky, PhD

Dr. Rick Dobrowsky is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Director of the Neuroscience Program at the KU-Lawrence campus. The focus of his research program over the last 15 years has been on elucidating mechanisms that contribute to sensory neuron and Schwann cell dysfunction in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In conjunction with Dr. Brian Blagg in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, they have developed novel small molecules that may prove beneficial in treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy as well as other inherited peripheral neuropathies.

Accelerating Innovation, Empowering Discoveries. Genetic Sciences and Clinical Next-Gen Sequencing


As the world leader in serving science, Thermo Fisher Scientific has an unmatched depth of offerings that allow us to help our customers make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer. Our industry-leading investment in R&D allows us to develop cutting edge products that not only help our customers innovate in their own research but also allow them to be more productive in a time of fewer resources. The products developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific add value to researchers through our ability to offer sample to answer solutions in a wide variety of workflows from protein analysis to next generation sequencing.

Speaker- Doug Mersman, PhD

Doug Mersman received his PhD in biochemistry from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in the laboratory of Scott Briggs, focusing on the Set1 histone methyltransferase complex and its role in gene regulation.  After a brief stint as a postdoctoral research associate he joined Life Technologies prior to its acquisition by Thermo Fisher Scientific as an account manager covering the Applied Biosystems qPCR portfolio.  After his first year in sales Doug was promoted to covering two of Life Technologies’ largest accounts, Monsanto Co and DuPont Pioneer.  During that time he received the “Rookie of the Year” award and won Chairman’s Club, the company’s sales incentive trip.  From the genetic analysis side of the business Doug transitioned to a role with the Invitrogen side of Life Technologies to gain experience in the company’s protein, microscopy, and cell culture portfolio.  He currently represents the Genetic Analysis Division within Thermo Fisher Scientific with responsibility for qPCR, CE sequencing, Ion Torrent next generation sequencing, and microarray technologies.