A new neuron-nourishing protein that may prove useful for treating Parkinson's disease is revealed in a paper published in Nature.
Parkinson's disease destroys nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to movement and balance problems. The new molecule, dubbed conserved dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF), can prevent the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. But Mart Saarma and colleagues go one step further, showing that CDNF actually stops ongoing cell death and can help damaged dopaminergic neurons to recover, easing symptoms in their animal model.
Current anti-Parkinsonian drugs do not prevent neuronal degeneration and death, and their effects can be patchy and short-lived. The results suggest that CDNF has great potential as a therapeutic protein for Parkinson's disease.
Mart Saarma (University of Helsinki, Finland)
(C) Nature press release.
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