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Sticky peptide may help Parkinson’s

In Parkinson’s, a protein called α-synuclein becomes misshapen and stacks together to form long toxic fibrils that kill the brain cells. A team of scientists led by the University of Bath, with funding from Parkinson’s UK, has designed a peptide that binds to the faulty α-synuclein and stops fibrils from forming. Their research is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK, said: “It’s a difficult task to develop treatments that can stop the toxic build-up of proteins in the brains of people with Parkinson’s. Supporting this kind of innovative research approach is starting to make imaginable today what seemed impossible a decade ago. We need more successes, like this one, if we are to develop drugs that could actually slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s. At the moment no drugs are capable of doing this.”

The researchers designed the 10 amino-acid peptide by screening a library of peptides based on the region of α-synuclein that is mutated in patients with early onset Parkinson’s. This is the first time that this part of the α-synuclein protein has been explored as a potential drug target.

Journal Reference:

Harish Cheruvara, Victoria L. Allen-Baume, Neil M. Kad, Jody M. Mason. Intracellular screening of a peptide library to derive a potent peptide inhibitor of α-synuclein aggregation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2015; jbc.M114.620484 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M114.620484

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