Sunday, March 4, 2012

Possible Parkinson's Cure: Break Up of Aggregations of Toxic Proteins Halt Progress of Disease in Animals

Parkinson's Disease affects millions of people around the world, yet the underlying cause of this ailment has yet to be verified. Parkinson's is a common neurodegenerative disease where the neurons associated with the central nervous system are "attacked", by toxic proteins and lead eventually to many coordination, comprehension, and muscular problems. The disease affects 1-2% of adults and is currently linked to dopamine deficiencies as well as toxic bundles of protein called Alpha Synuclein (A.S). All patients suffering from Parkinson's had this common protein buildup, that ultimately becomes toxic once is aggregates.

Now researchers at UCLA, believe they have found a method with wich they can prevent the buildup of Alpha Synuclein; which they believe to be the primary cause of this disease. They have created a compound known referred to as "molecular tweezers" which, in animal models, broke up deposits of A.S, stopped their toxicity, and did all of this without affecting normal brain function or other cells. This "molecular tweezer", known by its lab name of CLR01 binds with the proteins associated with the "C" shape of A.S, and help break aggregations down.

The first animal testing was done in Zebra fish, due to their ease of genetic manipulability. Using fluorescent proteins, scientists tracked the progress of A.S and how its buildup affected the brain. Just as in cell cultures preformed prior to the live animal trial, CLR01 was successful in preventing A.S aggregation and neuronal death. Results look promising, and the group plans on moving on to trials in mice before moving on to human trials.

This is an incredible advance in the prevention and possible cure of Parkinson's. Although the trials have only been preformed on zebra fish and lab cultures, the results are astonishing. CLR01 has so far resulted in the prevention and ultimately the cure of Parkinson's in test trials. This creation's reach will extend far beyond the boundaries of Parkinson's, and will have implications for the whole field of neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's Disease are all similar in terms of systemic problems, and this breakthrough could very well help cure more than just Parkinson's.

- Jeff Keating (2)


  1. I think it's so simply ingenious to try and tackle life threatening diseases by preventing them before they develop. We live in such a rapid development age, where we now can possibly even prevent debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkison's. Like polio in the 20th century, we're one step closer to eradicating it all together from recent memory. Wonderful article.

    Posted By Andy Zou

  2. "There is a cure!" is a phase that so many people want to hear. Scientists are usually working their hardest to find cures for diseases and it seems like it's beginning to pay off here. The truth is, there will always be another disease evolving to bother us and make us sick. Then, scientists will be trying to find the cure for those diseases. It is great that advances have been made in a fish and we come closer to understanding how to find a cure. I hope that this accomplishment leads to human treatment and helping a family in a rough time.

    Posted by: Jen Silva

  3. This really is incredible. While humans are a lot more complicated than zebra fish, this research is a very good start. Professor Downes from Umass is studying the development of the spinal cord in zebra fish so maybe there is a strong correlation between the spinal cord and brain of a zebra fish and the spinal cord and brain of a human. It would be great if this treatment could work in humans. The ability of the molecular tweezers to only affect certain cells is really neat. Hopefully the research continues and good things come of it.

    Posted By Erica Bonnell

  4. I once did a report on Huntington's disease, another neurological condition. Huntington's is also said to be caused by clumps of a protein (called huntingin) in the brain. Maybe these "tweezers" could help with that disease also.

    Great blog

    Posted by Joseph Frimpong

  5. The Neurodegenerative diseases are a nasty bunch. I don't want my grandparents do develop Alzheimer's and begin to lose all their memories. If these "molecular tweezers's can remove the toxic proteins in the brain, then this can prevent the onset of the disease. This wouldn't heal the brain, but it wouldn't get any worse.

    posted by Dorian Pillari

  6. This is excellent news. One of my biggest fears is losing my mind. So when I hear that there are now measures to prevent neuronal death, it helps me sleep at night. Think of what people could accomplish with all of their knowledge and experience if they can remain lucid late into their lives.

    Posted by Michael Thomas

  7. I'm excited to see where this experiment goes. It's definitely good news that we might have found a solution to such a terrible condition. I certainly would hate to see anyone suffer from this disease. And just as Michael Thomas pointed out, people might achieve more and do better work as they get older because of all the experience and knowledge they have gained. And we wouldn't want such a disease to stop us.

    -Hermann Kam

  8. What a good article with great news that hopefully their will be a cure for parkinson's. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's Alzheizmers and Huntington's are extremely powerful and are horrible to deal with for the victim him or herself as well as his or her family and friends. It would be amazing if continuing research for this process could become the cure for Parkinson's. If so, it would be a step closer in finding cures for all ND diseases.

  9. I wonder if this research (apparently conducted at UCLA) had anything to do with UMass. I know that the Karlstrom lab studies Zebrafish and that we as a university have pretty strong ties with UCLA so it could very well involve us. It feels good to be involved in such a strong research university, we do so much that you never know where our name might pop up, and as Biology students we can easily take part in it

    Mike Selden (C)

  10. I read an article less than three weeks ago about a similar step forward in research on Alzheimer's. The momentum that research for neurodegenerative diseases is gathering seems hopeful, especially given the innovative ways we are circumventing the inability to see their progression in humans. The emergence of Zebrafish in genetics studies seems to have also opened up a lot of research opportunities.

    Posted by James Fargnoli