In Parkinson’s disease, a protein called I-synuclein loses shape and stacks together to form long toxic fibrils to kill the brain cells. The new peptide designed by the researchers binds to the causing I-synuclein and stops fibrils from forming.
“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 causes brain cells to die causing depletion of the chemical dopamine, which is a key messenger to coordinate body movement. Those affected by Parkinson’s experience symptoms like tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.
Now the researchers found that the peptide developed by them halts the formation of fibrils in cells in-vitro and stops them from dying.
“In Parkinson’s, the protein called I-synuclein changes shape and stacks with other misshapen proteins,” Mason said. “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 Bath team hopes that it can be developed into a treatment and help slow the progression of the degenerative disease. The study has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.