New Treatment for Parkinson’s Going to Clinical Trials

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iStock_000006935562MediumThe results of a new study published in the science journal Journal of Biological Chemistry, says the most effective way of tackling debilitating diseases is by punching them at the beginning and preventing them from growing. According to the study printed in a science article in Science Daily, small molecular tweezers can be used to keep proteins from clumping, or aggregating — the first step in neurological disorders which include Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

As a result of the study, the promising molecule is headed toward clinical trials and will become a new drug, according to Lisa Lapidus, Michigan State University associate professor of physics and astronomy, and co-author of the paper. Currently, patients don’t show symptoms until after aggregation has taken hold in their brains. Now, Lapidus says, the first steps of the disease can be viewed in the lab, so that drugs will be more effective. The researchers believe the new discovery will provide them with a strong model for fighting Parkinson’s and other diseases involving neurotoxic aggregation.

Lasers were used to study the speed of protein reconfiguration, prior to aggregation, using a technique that Lapidus pioneered. The proteins are chains of amino acids responsible for most of the processes performed in cells. While scientists have an understanding of protein structure, they are unaware of how the proteins are built, otherwise known as “folding.” Lapidus’ lab shed some light on that mystery by correlating the speed that an unfolded protein changes shape, along with its tendency to clump or bind with other proteins. The results of the study answer important science questions that could result in better treatment options for patients with thee terrible diseases.

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