The role of cystine transport by the xCT protein in maintaining the brain antioxidant glutathione

Andy Shih’s Masters research focuses on preventing damage to cells in the central nervous system after a traumatic injury. Following such an injury to the brain or spinal cord, free radicals (oxidants) accumulate and damage almost all molecules in a cell by stealing electrons. Toxic damage to neural tissues worsens progressively over hours or days due to an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants that normally protect the cells. Shih is examining the effectiveness of increasing antioxidants to prevent cellular damage, with a particular focus on glutathione, a potent antioxidant. He hopes this work will lead to new treatments for brain and spinal cord injuries. Shih also sees potential benefits from the research for many other diseases, including stroke, epilepsy and neurodegenerative disease.