In what could potentially slow the progress of Parkinson's disease, researchers have developed a peptide that sticks to the protein that causes this incurable disease, stopping it from killing brain cells.
"The results so far are very encouraging. These findings could herald a new approach to treating Parkinson's," said Jody Mason from the University of Bath in Britain.
Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition where brain cells die causing a lack of the chemical dopamine, which acts as a messenger that coordinates movement.
Parkinson's causes symptoms of tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.
In Parkinson's, a protein called I-synuclein becomes misshapen and stacks together to form long toxic fibrils that kill the brain cells.
The new peptide that the researchers have designed binds to the faulty I-synuclein and stops fibrils from forming.
The researchers showed that the peptide halts the formation of fibrils in cells in-vitro and stops them dying.
"In Parkinson's, the protein called I-synuclein changes shape and stacks with other misshapen proteins," Mason noted.
"We have discovered a peptide that binds to the sticky part of the I-synuclein and covers it up, which stops the fibril growing," Mason added.
The team anticipates that if developed into a treatment, the peptide could help slow the progression of this degenerative disease.
The study appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.