Newly Designed 10-Amino-Acid Peptide Sticks to α-Syncelein to Prevent Fibril Formation and May Slow the Progression of Parkinsons’s

UK scientists have developed a 10-amino-acid peptide that sticks to the protein that causes Parkinson's disease, stopping it from killing brain cells. The research highlights a potential new route for slowing the progress of this incurable disease. Parkinson's affects approximately 1 in 500 people in the UK. It's a progressive neurological condition where brain cells die causing a lack of the chemical dopamine, which acts as a messenger that coordinates movement. Parkinson's causes symptoms of tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. In Parkinson's, a particular protein called α-synuclein (image) becomes misshapen and stacks together to form long toxic fibrils that kill the brain cells. A team of scientists led by the University of Bath, with funding from Parkinson's UK, has designed a peptide that binds to the faulty α-synuclein and stops fibrils from forming. Their research was published online on January 23, 2015 in an open-access article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The researchers showed that the peptide halts the formation of fibrils in cells in vitro and stops them dying. The team anticipates that, if developed into a treatment, ths peptide could help slow the progression of this degenerative disease. Dr. Jody Mason, from the University of Bath's Department of Biology & Biochemistry, explained: "In Parkinson's, the protein called α-synuclein changes shape and stacks with other misshapen proteins. "We've discovered a peptide that binds to the sticky part of the α-synuclein and covers it up, which stops the fibril from growing. "If you think of the misshapen α-synuclein proteins as Lego bricks which stack to form a tower; our peptide acts like a smooth brick that sticks to the α-synuclein and stops the tower from growing any bigger.”
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