Could a sea sponge support the search for Parkinson’s disease treatments?


Author: Sarah McGrathPublished: 2 February 2023

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Colourful sea sponges.

How could a molecule in a sea sponge help treat Parkinson’s and similar conditions? Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the US, recently explored this question. Their findings were published in the journal ‘Science’.

The team examined a molecule known as lissodendoric acid A, which appears to counteract other molecules that damage DNA, proteins and whole cells – and was recently discovered in a sea sponge. The research team used an oft-neglected compound called a cyclic allene to control a step in the chain of chemical reactions, which enabled them to create a version of the molecule in a lab.

Scientists believe that the ability to synthetically produce lissodendoric acid A will help them assess whether it can inform future therapies for conditions like Parkinson’s. UCLA’s Professor Neil Garg, the corresponding author of the study, said: “We hope others will also be able to use cyclic allenes to make new medicines.”

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