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New Man-Made Peptide Could Help Slow Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Posted on September 16, 2015 by Disability Help Group

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that interferes with the brain cells that release dopamine. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but every year there are better treatments developed to slow the progression of the disease.

One recent study from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom is examining the role of α-synuclein cell proteins in cell function. Once the α-synuclein protein becomes faulty, it forms into an incorrect shape that clumps into a toxic fibril. This stops normal cell function and can halt the release of dopamine, which is necessary for transmission of nervous signals that affect movement.

Targeting the α-synuclein, the team developed a special peptide that binds to the misshapen proteins and stops them from clumping together. When the toxic fibrils do not form, the dopamine cells remain unaltered and can continue their production and release.

Using this information, the researchers hope to synthesize a new drug targeted at eliminating the α-synuclein blockages and allowing normal dopamine production. The peptide was created using the mutated form of α-synuclein found in Parkinson’s patients as a model. The next step for the research is testing the peptide in mammalian brain cells. Researchers may then begin the process of developing a marketable drug.

This method of testing and treatment may apply to other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, which shares similar traits such as the clumping together of misshapen proteins.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that gradually renders a person unable to control fine motor skills and perform basic daily life needs. People afflicted with Parkinson’s disease may become unable to work and earn a substantial income.