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Sticky protein may lead to novel treatment for Parkinson's

IANS  |  London 

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.

First Published: Thu, February 26 2015. 14:18 IST