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Potential Help for Parkinson’s

parkinsonsResearchers have identified a protein from a most unlikely source — baker’s yeast — that might protect against Parkinson’s disease.

More than a million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease, and no treatments are available that fundamentally alter the course of the condition.

By introducing the yeast protein Hsp104 into animal models of Parkinson’s disease, researchers prevented protein clumping that leads to nerve cell death characteristic of the disorder.

“Yeast express a protein called Hsp104, which is able to reverse protein aggregation,” says James Shorter, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

“However, for reasons that are unclear, Hsp104 is not found in mammals. We wondered if introducing Hsp104 into mammals could help with diseases connected with protein aggregation.”

These findings will be published in the September 2008 issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation and appeared online August 14, 2008

Clinicians do not fully understand the process and cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, researchers believe that a protein called alpha-synuclein misfolds and clumps in many forms of the disease, and that this process is intimately tied to the selective death of dopamine-producing neurons that results in Parkinson’s disease.

In this study, researchers found that Hsp104 could partially reverse alpha-synuclein aggregation in test-tube experiments. Remarkably, rats expressing Hsp104 showed lower levels of alpha-synuclein aggregation and alpha-synuclein-induced toxicity of neurons.

This result is significant because the rat model used recreates the selective loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the region of the brain affected in Parkinson’s disease, say the investigators.

“This study represents an important preliminary step,” says Shorter. “One thing we’d like to do next is to treat an animal model which already has considerable quantities of alpha-synuclein aggregates to see if Hsp104 can actually reverse the process in the rat brain.”

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Potential Help for Parkinson’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Potential Help for Parkinson’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/08/19/potential-help-for-parkinsons/2782.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.