September, 2020 — The National Institutes of Health has recognized Carnegie's Dan Kelpsch with its prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award. The highly selective fellowship will bolster Kelpsch's efforts to identify drugs that reduce cholesterol levels. 

Metabolic syndrome—encompassing type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease, and cardiovascular diseaseaffects more than one billion people worldwide. The best biological marker of metabolic syndrome is increased levels of a protein called Apolipoprotein-B (ApoB), which attaches itself to fat and cholesterol molecules, also known as lipids, to help shuttle them around the circulatory system. These complexes of lipid and protein are called lipoproteins—a type of which is commonly known as "bad cholesterol."

Kelpsch utilized the fluorescent LipoGlo system, a live zebrafish model that tags ApoB with a glowing enzyme, to test about 3000 commonly used drugs and natural products for their ability to reduce lipoproteins. His team, including Carnegie's Lishann Ingram and collaborators at Johns Hopkins University, has already identified 48 compounds that lower bad cholesterol in the zebrafish—including cinnamon oil. 

The team is currently using LipoGlo to identify specific bioactive components of cinnamon oil that produce favorable metabolic effects. Ultimately, Kelpsch aims to identify new cholesterol-lowering therapeutics and provide fundamental insights into the regulation and function of ApoB. 

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting work!!

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