The discovery of a master control region for a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease could provide hope of new therapies.
Associate Professor David Brockwell and Sheena Radford, Astbury Professor of Biophysics, led research by their team in the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology on the protein alpha-synuclein, which is involved in Parkinson’s disease. Alpha-synuclein is found in healthy cells within the nervous system. Problems occur when the protein aggregates, or clumps together, disrupting normal cell function. NAC, an area of the protein particularly prone to aggregation, was previously thought to be key to understanding the disease, yet this new research has discovered two additional regions outside of NAC that control its aggregation. The identification of these sites provides a new target for therapies that could delay or even prevent the progression of Parkinson’s disease, which affects more than 10 million people worldwide.