A molecular tweezer has been found to block clump formation in Parkinson's brains, taking research in the area closer to finding a cure.
Parkinson's disease is still a condition researchers know relatively little about.
A UK charity has recently commissioned a study of 3,000 people in order find out more about the disease, initiating one of the biggest studies ever into its causes.
However, neuroscientists from the University of California Los Angeles have jump-started the research, with new findings that have used molecular tweezers which can block protein aggregation, prevent toxicity and reverse aggregates without interfering with normal brain function.
Bronstein, professor of neurology at UC, said: “Its normal function is not well understood, but it may play a role in aiding communications between neurons.
“The trick then is to prevent the α-syn protein aggregates and their toxicity without destroying the α-syn’s normal function, along with other healthy areas of the brain.”
Along with colleagues, Dr Bronstein has developed a C-shaped compound which they use as a molecular tweezer. These function by wrapping around chains of lysine called CLR01. The CLR01 blocks the formation of clumps and can even break up existing aggregates, without causing toxicity to the brain.
“The most surprising aspect of the work is that despite the ability of the compound to bind to many proteins, it did not show toxicity or side effects to normal functioning brain cells,” Dr Bronstein added.
Bronstein's team also used the tweezers in a transgenic zebrafish model for Parkinson’s disease. They added CLR01 and used a fluorescent protein to track the tweezer’s effect on aggregations. The results showed positive outcomes for the role of CLR01, preventing a-syn from aggregating, which is a big step in curing the disease.
Additionally, preventing toxicity and the break-up of existing aggregates opens many doors for researchers, who are likely to benefit from the large-scale study being conducted in the UK.