Scientists have found a ground-breaking step towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s

New research by Cambridge University Scientists reveals a ground-breaking ‘vital step’ towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the Scientists explain their new understanding of the several roles alpha-synuclein performs – a significant brain protein.

One focal role the protein plays is when it is present at small gaps between neurons or nerve cells. These gaps are called synapses, and the protein enables them to communicate effectively with one another.

Alpha-synuclein causes Parkinson’s disease when it functions abnormally and creates clumps called Lewy bodies inside of neurons, which causes them to work less productively and ultimately die.

Over the years, treatments and drugs for Parkinson’s helped patients manage the disease, but could not reverse the effects as scientists did not know how the protein functions ordinarily. Now they do.

Michele Vendruscolo, a University of Cambridge Professor, said that “to intervene and correct [alpha-synuclein’s] behaviour, we first need to know what it does normally so that when we correct its behaviour we don’t interfere with its normal behaviour.

“Of course there are going to be many other steps of this type that are needed to eventually find a cure but this is a significant step forward in establishing the normal function of this protein.”

Dr Giuliana Fusco, the Lead Author of the paper and Research Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, said the “study could unlock more information about this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that can leave people unable to walk and talk.

“If we want to cure Parkinson’s, first we need to understand the function of alpha-synuclein. This research is a vital step towards that goal.”

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