University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) researchers have discovered a therapeutic target that, when manipulated, may slow the progression of or halt Parkinson’s disease.
A paper on their findings, titled “Repression of a-synuclein expression and toxicity by microRNA-7,” appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
In this publication, the investigators report that the small RNA molecule microRNA-7, which is present in neurons, directly represses the expression of a-synuclein, a protein that, in excess, proves deleterious to certain types of brain cells.
M. Maral Mouradian, M.D., center director the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology, carried out the study.
“Individuals who have multiple copies of the a-synuclein gene come down with Parkinson’s, so inhibitors of a-synuclein expression are attractive therapeutic targets,” explained Mouradian.
“Our manipulation protects neuronal cells from the toxicity that results from increased levels of this protein.”
There is no cure for Parkinson’s and there are no neuroprotective treatments as of yet, making this new strategy to manipulate the molecular underpinnings of the disease a significant discovery, Mouradian added.