Piotr Hańczyc, MSc Eng., is a member of the group led by Prof. Marek Samoć, PhD hab., from the Wrocław University of Technology’s Faculty of Chemistry, who is a beneficiary of the Foundation for Polish Science’s WELCOME and MISTRZ/MASTER programmes. Working with Prof. Bengt Nordén from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Hańczyc discovered that subjecting amyloids to short laser light pulses could play an important role in treating neurodegenerative brain diseases. The results of this research have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Photonics.
The scientists studied protein aggregates called amyloids, which are structures that form in the process of slow accumulation of deposits and cause cells to stop functioning properly. They are also linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the latter also being known as “mad cow disease”.
The studies show that when amyloid fibrils are subjected to short, femtosecond laser light pulses (100 femtoseconds equal 0.0000000000001 s), strong nonlinear optical effects unexpectedly occur, consisting in fibrils simultaneously absorbing two or more photons. This discovery could have implications for the laser-aided diagnosis and treatment of the aforementioned brain diseases. It will enable protein deposits that cause diseases to be distinguished from those that are functioning properly.