An international team of researchers has revealed that a protein that yeast uses to protect itself from protein aggregation may harbour the cure for Parkinson disease (PD). The team, comprising experts from the Switzerland-based Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and the Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says that the Hsp104 protein has shown promising results in a study on mice.
Parkinson disease is caused by the progressive loss of nerve cells that produce the chemical dopamine, and is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal aggregates of a protein called alpha-syn in these dopaminergic nerve cells.
The researchers say that Hsp104 was found to significantly reduce both the formation of alpha-syn aggregates and the degeneration of neurons in the brain in a rat model of PD during the study.
In lab studies, the researchers observed that Hsp104 not only inhibited alpha-syn aggregate formation, but also interacted with mammalian proteins to disassemble them.
Based on their observations, the researchers came to the conclusion that Hsp104 could be considered as a potential strategy for the treatment of individuals with PD.
They, however, insisted that further studies were needed to determine the safety of introducing Hsp104 into the brain.