Understanding the protective versus the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species could be the key to developing a safe and effective antioxidant therapy that lowers the risk of certain diseases. Unfortunately, when it comes to reactive oxygen species, scientists don’t have a useful tool to determine what’s good and what’s bad.
Wojtovich and Thomas Foster, Ph.D., a professor of Imaging Sciences and Biomedical Engineering and a co-investigator on the new grant, will study the effects of reactive oxygen species in the roundworm C. elegans, an organism that has many similarities to mammals.
“We already know that small amounts of reactive oxygen species can extend lifespan in worms and facilitate wound healing in both worm and mammalian nerve cells, which is counterintuitive since they also contribute to age-related damage and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” said Wojtovich, who is currently working in the laboratories of Keith Nehrke, Ph.D. and Paul Brookes, Ph.D., where he has authored fifteen papers over the last five years. “This award will support our ultimate goal of directing future antioxidant therapies to eliminate detrimental and spare beneficial reactive oxygen species.”