In a new study from the University of Bath, researchers found a molecule that shows promise in preventing Parkinson’s disease.
It has the potential to be developed into a drug to treat the deadly neurodegenerative disease.
Today there are only medicines to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s. This study may help develop a drug that can return people to good health even before symptoms develop.
Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by a specific protein in human cells ‘misfolding’, where it becomes aggregated and malfunctions.
The protein—alpha-synuclein (αS) – is abundant in all human brains. After misfolding, it accumulates in large masses, known as Lewy bodies.
These masses consist of αS aggregates that are toxic to dopamine-producing brain cells, causing them to die.
It is this drop in dopamine signaling that triggers the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, as the signals transmitting from the brain to the body become noisy, leading to the distinctive tremors seen in sufferers.
The team previously analyzed a vast library of peptides (short chains of amino acids—the building blocks of proteins) to find the best candidate for preventing αS misfolding.
Of the 209,952 peptides screened in earlier work by scientists at Bath, peptide 4554W showed the most promise.
In the current study, the team tweaked peptide 4554W to optimize its function.
The new version of the molecule—4654W(N6A)—contains two modifications to the parental amino-acid sequence and has proven to be significantly more effective at reducing αS misfolding, aggregation and toxicity.
The team says the effectiveness of the 4654W(N6A) is very exciting, as it highlights where to target to suppress the toxicity.
Not only will this research lead to the development of new treatments to prevent the disease, but it is also uncovering fundamental mechanisms of the disease itself.
This research also has implications for Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and other serious human diseases where symptoms are triggered by protein misfolding.
For more information about Parkinson’s disease and your health, please see recent studies about this stuff in berries may prevent and reverse Parkinson’s disease and results showing that eye tests could predict Parkinson’s disease 18 months ahead.
The study is published in the Journal of Molecular Biology. One author of the study is Professor Jody Mason.
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