Kurt Warnhoff, Ph.D., researcher at Sanford Health, recently received a $2 million grant for his work studying the biology of the molybdenum cofactor (Moco). The rare disease, known as molybdenum cofactor deficiency (MoCD), is a lethal condition that causes brain dysfunction that worsens over time.
Babies born with this condition often appear normal at birth but will begin developing seizures and have difficulty feeding within the first couple weeks of life.
“Chemical reactions in cells require enzymes to proceed efficiently,” said Dr. Warnhoff. “Many enzymes need dedicated ‘helper molecules’ called cofactors. When cofactors are deficient, our enzymes do not function correctly, leading to metabolic disease. This project aims to understand how cells maintain appropriate levels of the essential molybdenum cofactor and cope with metabolic imbalance when molybdenum cofactor is deficient.”
Dr. Warnhoff and his lab at Sanford Research are working at the scientific forefront for studies of Moco deficiency, which affects nearly 1 in 100,000 people. His lab’s proposed research program will define fundamental pathways that govern Moco biology. It also may suggest new therapeutic strategies to treat rare and common diseases where Moco and Moco-mediated metabolism are disturbed.
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