Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev, and collaborators, have discovered that the bone morphogenetic proteins BMP5 and BMP7 (BMP5/7) offer promising therapeutics that could slow down or halt the progression of Parkinson's disease. The findings were published online on November 30, 2020 in Brain. The open-access article is titled “BMP5/7 Protect Dopaminergic Neurons in an Alpha-Synuclein Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease.” Parkinson's disease, which affects over one million people in U.S. and 10 million worldwide, causes tremors and severe movement impairment due to progressive degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells. It is believed that the protein "alpha-synuclein," present in all human brains, misfolds and forms toxic clumps in these cells, which causes the disease. While current Parkinson's disease therapies improve symptoms, they are not effective in advanced illness stages and, unfortunately, do not slow or cure the disease. Claude Brodski (photo), MD, head of the BGU's Laboratory for Molecular Neuroscience, discovered that BMP5/7 signaling in neurons was significantly reduced in dopamine-producing brain cells, which could contribute to Parkinson's disease advancement. "Indeed, we found that BMP5/7 treatment can, in a Parkinson's disease mouse model, efficiently prevent movement impairments caused by the accumulation of alpha-synuclein and reverse the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells," says Dr. Brodski. "These findings are very promising, because they suggest that BMP5/7 could slow or stop Parkinson's disease progression. Currently, we are focusing all our efforts on bringing our discovery closer to clinical application." BGN Technologies, Ben-Gurion University's technology transfer company, has filed several patent applications covering this breakthrough discovery.
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