New study brings scientists a “vital step” closer to understanding Parkinson’s disease

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Author: Saskia MairPublished: 18 February 2021

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Parkinson's disease. 3D illustration showing neurons containing Lewy bodies small red spheres which are deposits of proteins (alpha-synuclein) accumulated in the brain cells.

A new study from scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, has brought researchers “a vital step” closer to discovering the origins of Parkinson’s disease.

The research, published in the scientific journal ‘Nature Communications’, offered insights on the protein alpha-synuclein, which clumps together in the neurons of people with Parkinson’s.

The study focused on how the protein functions in those without the condition and revealed that it sticks to the inner side of the plasma membrane of nerve cells, but not the outer membrane – an insight that could help in the search for a cure.

Lead study author, Dr Giuliana Fusco, said: “This study could unlock more information about this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that can leave people unable to walk and talk. If we want to cure Parkinson’s, first we need to understand the function of alpha-synuclein, a protein present in everyone’s brains.”


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