Parkinson's Disease Discovery

Along with MS and Alzheimer’s thisis the disease that desperately needs real progress.

A million people suffer from thedisease and it is a long and lingering way to die.  A victim retains his wits but slowly loses controlover all motor functions.  Firstdiagnosis until death now appears to be around fifteen years if what hashappened to two friends of mine is an indication.  I suspect modern methods extended their livesperhaps twofold.

Now we have a promising pathway thatcan be used to possibly intercept the progress of the disease itself.  It may not cure it but blocking the damage isgood enough.  It appears complex andtricky and we still lack any understanding of causation except to suspect anenvironmental insult when young.

Unfortunately that is not goodenough to narrow it down.

Released: 2/28/2011 12:00 PM EST 

Newswise — AMES, Iowa - A protein pathway that may hold the secret tounderstanding Parkinson's disease has been discovered and explained by IowaState University researchers.

Anumantha Kanthasamy, a distinguished professor of biomedical sciencesand the W. Eugene and Linda R. Lloyd Endowed Chair in Neurotoxicology at theISU College of Veterinary Medicine, has been working to understand the complexmechanisms of the disease for more than a decade. He believes this recentdiscovery offers hope for the cure.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and ispublished in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Parkinson's disease sufferers lack a sufficient amount of a brainchemical called dopamine. In previous research, Kanthasamy has shown that a novelprotein -- known as protein kinase-C (specifically PKCδ) - kills essentialdopamine-producing cells in the brain.

Now, Kanthasamy has shown how to modify the production of the kinase-C,and, more important, how to inhibit it.

The process begins with a protein called alpha-synuclein (ά-synuclein)that - after interacting with other proteins in cells - becomes part of theprotein complex that modifies kinase-C level in the cells.

One of the proteins that alpha-synuclein interacts with inside the cellis known as p300.
By changing the activity of p300 protein, Kanthasamy believes thatproduction of the destructive kinase-C will be inhibited.

"We have identified an essential pathway that regulates thesurvival of dopamine-producing nerve cells," he said.

"This p300 is an intermediate protein that is implicit in the Parkinson'sdisease," he said. "By modifying this protein, we can potentiallyreduce the expression of kinase-C and the associated destructive effects ondopamine-producing cells."

"We found the mechanism," said Kanthasamy of the pathway."Now we can focus on finding chemicals that may be able to control themechanism."

Parkinson's disease strikes around 50,000 people each year, andapproximately 1 million people have the disease. Parkinson's sufferers includeactor Michael J. Fox and former boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson's and available therapiesonly treat the symptoms.

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include trembling in hands, arms, legs,jaw, and face; rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; slowness ofmovement; and impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become morepronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing othersimple tasks.

Because the disease typically affects people over the age of 50, theNational Institutes of Health anticipates the incidence of Parkinson's willincrease as the nation's population ages.

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