Saturday January 19, 2019

New Target For Parkinson’s Therapy Identified

The study revealed that, inside cells, alpha-synuclein binds to mitochondria, where cardiolipin resides

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The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons

Researchers have discovered one of the factors behind nerve cell death in Parkinson’s disease, unlocking the potential for new treatment to slow the progression of this fatal neurodegenerative disorder.

The researchers found that cardiolipin — a molecule inside nerve cells — helps ensure that a protein called alpha-synuclein folds properly. Misfolding of this protein leads to protein deposits that are the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

“Identifying the crucial role cardiolipin plays in keeping these proteins functional means cardiolipin may represent a new target for the development of therapies against Parkinson’s disease,” said Scott Ryan, Professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

“Currently there are no treatments that stop nerve cells from dying,” Ryan added.

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These deposits are toxic to nerve cells that control voluntary movement. When too many of these deposits accumulate, nerve cells die, the researchers said.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers used stem cells collected from people with the disease. The team studied how nerve cells try to cope with misfolded alpha-synuclein.

10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Pixabay

“We thought if we can better understand how cells normally fold alpha-synuclein, we may be able to exploit that process to dissolve these aggregates and slow the spread of the disease,” Ryan said.

The study revealed that, inside cells, alpha-synuclein binds to mitochondria, where cardiolipin resides. Cells use mitochondria to generate energy and drive metabolism.

ALSO READ: Progression of Parkinson disease could be slowed with exercise

Normally, cardiolipin in mitochondria pulls synuclein out of toxic protein deposits and refolds it into a non-toxic shape, the researchers added.

The researchers found that, in people with Parkinson’s disease, this process is overwhelmed over time and mitochondria are ultimately destroyed.

“As a result, the cells slowly die. Based on this finding, we now have a better understanding of why nerve cells die in Parkinson’s disease and how we might be able to intervene,” the researchers noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Smart Garments to Prevent Falls in Parkinson’s Patients

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants' progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

A team of researchers are in the process of developing smart garment technologies that would prevent falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Falls, which are frequently caused by gait impairments and postural instability, are common and often devastating in the lives of people with Parkinson’s – a neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) are set to make StandingTall-PD — a neuro-rehabilitation programme — that aims to prevent freezing-of-gait and falls, and enhance patients’ independence.

The programme uses visual, audio and haptic sensory cues to help rewire the parts of the brain that control walking and preventing falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The combination of visual, audio and sensory elements helps to form new connections in less affected parts of the brain, leading to improved walking ability, the researchers said.

Now, smart garments to prevent falls in Parkinson’s patients.

“Existing dopamine therapies offer benefit in treating motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s but may not alleviate gait and balance challenges,” said Jamie L. Hamilton, Associate Director at the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) in the US.

“The new programme has the potential to become an affordable option to address gait and balance issues and improve overall quality of life for people with Parkinson’s,” said Hamilton.

For the study, researchers will give participants a mat with colour-coded stepping targets, a pair of Sensoria Smart Socks, an iPad and phone.

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The programme can help enable participants to self-manage and monitor their own progress via an app on their phone. The app can also trigger stimuli during everyday activities, such as vibration in their Smart Socks, if they are in danger of experiencing freezing-of-gait, falls or if they show signs of shuffling feet.

In addition, clinicians can monitor participants’ progress remotely and adjust the programme to provide ongoing and personalised continuity of care. (IANS)