Adventuring for a cause

Ravindra Singh

Research being conducted at Iowa State could potentially change the lives of thousands of people around the world. That's because Iowa State biomedical sciences professor Ravindra Singh and his team have discovered a potential new treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. This is good news for parents everywhere because spinal muscular atrophy is the number one cause of genetic fatalities in infants.

Singh's team found that Alu elements, which only appear in primates, can produce another form of a housekeeping gene known as the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. This is important because if a person's survival motor neuron is lost or mutated, spinal muscular atrophy can result. Singh's research discovered a variation of SMN, called an isoform, that produces a more stable form of the protein that can be inserted into a mutated gene.

One day, his new findings could lead to more effective therapies that help alleviate the severity of the spinal muscular atrophy. Said Singh, "We didn't know we could make this more stable protein before. If you had a way of stimulating the production of this protein, that could be therapeutic." Singh's earlier invention was recently made into the first FDA-approved drug for spinal muscular atrophy.

From medical breakthroughs to engineering innovations, world-impacting research happens at Iowa State. What's even better is that many Iowa State students get the chance to work right alongside our faculty doing research. So if you're a student looking to change the world, look here first.

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