A team of scientists from Japan and the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has created a new mouse model that confirms that mutations of a protein called beta-synuclein promote neurodegeneration.
The discovery creates a potential new target for developing treatments of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
The newly published research describes the creation of a transgenic mouse model that expresses the B-synuclein mutation. The mice suffer from neurodegenerative disease, validating La Spada's earlier work.
"Beta-synuclein is interesting because it is closely related to alpha-synuclein, a protein that can cause Parkinson's disease by being mutated or over-expressed," La Spada said.
"A-synuclein is viewed as central to Parkinson's disease pathogenesis. The question has been: could B-synuclein also promote neurodegeneration because it's similar in its sequence and expression pattern to A-synuclein? This study shows that the answer is yes."
These findings, said La Spada, establish B-synuclein's links to Parkinson's disease and related disorders, making it a new and, now, proven target for potential therapies.
The work has been published in the issue of Nature Communications.