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Peptides to Selectively Enhance Mitochondrial Function

Stanford Reference:



Researchers in Prof. Daria Mochly-Rosen’s laboratory have developed peptides that could be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases, heart failure, diabetes and cancer by selectively inhibiting mitochondrial fission under pathological conditions. Mitochondrial fission contributes to increased reactive oxygen species in cells which can lead to cell death in a variety of human diseases. These peptides are designed to disrupt a protein-protein interaction involved in this process to improve mitochondrial integrity in diseased cells without exerting effects on the mitochondria of healthy cells. To enhance their therapeutic potential, the peptides also carry a functional group that enables them to cross the blood-brain-brain barrier and penetrate cells. These agents could be used to study mitochondrial dynamics or as drug candidates to treat conditions with excessive mitochondrial dysfunction, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes-induced neuropathy, ischemia/reperfusion injuries and other disorders.

Stage of Research
The inventors have designed peptide inhibitors of mitochondrial fission and demonstrated their neuroprotective effects in a cell culture model of Parkinson’s disease.

Peptides reduce neurite loss in Parkinson’s disease model. Compared to untreated controls, rat neurons imaged 15 hours after exposure to MPP+ (a chemical experimental model of Parkinson’s disease) showed loss of neurites (seen with the green TH marker for dopaminergic neurons) and mitochondria (seen with the red TOM20 marker for mitochondria). This loss was reduced with peptide treatment (MPP+/P110).


  • Therapeutic - agents to regulate mitochondrial fission to treat conditions such as:
    • neurodegenerative disorders (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease)
    • diabetes-induced pathology (neuropathy, cardiopathy)
    • ischemia/reperfusion injuries
    • heart disease (heart failure, myocardial infarction)
    • neuromuscular disorders (muscle wasting diseases, muscular dystrophy)
  • Research - reagents to study mitochondrial dynamics


  • Selective - action of peptide inhibitors improves mitochondrial integrity and health only under pathological conditions; they exert no effects on mitochondrial function in healthy cells
  • Designed for therapeutic utility:
    • peptides linked to TAT47-57 to cross the blood-brain-barrier and penetrate cells
    • similar peptides have been safe and efficacious in humans


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Date Released


Licensing Contact

Sara Nakashima, Licensing Associate
650 725 9115 (Direct)

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Related Keywords

huntington's disease   mitochondrial fission damage   Parkinson's disease   mitochondria   mitochondrial related diseases   neuroprotection   peptide biotherapeutics   peptide therapeutics   protein-protein interactions   therapeutic peptide   therapeutic: peptides   ischemic damage   diabetic neuropathy   



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