The Amyloid Project

The Amyloid Project was created in collaboration with ASU Physics Professor Dr. Sara Vaiana, with the purpose of communicating seminal research that her lab has done using lasers to understand the adaptive behaviors of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and their rigid counterparts, amyloid structures.

Amyloid structures are abnormal, rigid structures that are responsible for, or linked to, diseases that include Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. The rigidness of these structures make them difficult to fight off, which is how the diseases progress. Intrinsically disordered proteins, a.k.a. IDPs, are proteins that behave in a different manner – they are not rigid and move or respond adaptively when they are fired with lasers. The significance of this finding is: by understanding how and why IDPs move and adapt to intervention, researchers can gain greater insight about how amyloid structures might respond to new methods of intervention.

PRESS: Makezine DIY blog featured our work (click here to read the article).

Primary Project Components

Project Inspiration – Intrinsically Disordered Proteins

The Amyloid Project stems from a collaboration between urbanSTEW and ASU Physics research professor, Dr. Sara Vaiana. Dr. Vaiana’s research focuses on a newly discovered class of proteins found in the human body, called Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs), and particularly on ones that are involved in amyloid diseases. These IDPs are important because of their potential to better understand diseases such as such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. IDPs, unlike other proteins, do not fold into well-defined 3-dimensional structures. This plasticity makes them susceptible to aggregate forming highly structured amyloid fibers. This stops them from carrying out their essential biological functions, and can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s and diabetes. Dr. Vaiana is studying the unique properties of IDPs. This research is extremely complex but holds great potential to impact a large portion of our community, including people who suffer or know someone who suffers from diseases caused by protein aggregation.

The Amyloid Project interactive sculpture installation and evening-length performance premiered in March 2014 spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity at the Mesa Arts Center. The sculpture and performance was built and performed again at CONDER/Dance‘s Breaking Ground Festival in May 2014.