TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Scientists believe they have discovered how to stop Parkinson’s in its tracks creating new hope of finding a way to halt the disease.
Giving mice a protein-busting molecule reversed signs of the progressive condition in rodents treated before the disorder took hold.
The molecule, called anle138b, halted the build-up of a toxic protein clumps in the brain – considered a hallmark of Parkinson’s, DailyMail reported.
Parkinson’s UK hope the discovery could ‘prove crucial’ in stopping the inevitable progression of the condition in patients.
Parkinson’s affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK and one million in the US live with the condition.
It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge tested the effects of anle138b in mice when they nine months old.
By this time, the rodents had lower levels of dopamine, causing them symptoms similar to those seen in adults.
For instance, the mice had slightly different gait. In humans, this often causes ‘shuffling’ of feet when walking.
However, scientists noted drastic improvements three months after the mice were given anle138b, when they were a year old.
The rodents had fewer alpha-synuclein clumps – a protein known to form sticky clumps, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain.
This protected their dopamine levels and nerve cell death, improving their gait, according to the researchers led by Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini.
These clumps are thought to kill nerve cells responsible for producing dopamine, which sends messages across the brain.
Reduced levels of the chemical causes symptoms seen in patients with Parkinson’s, including freezing, tremors and slowness of movement.
Parkinson’s UK, which funded the research, claimed that the molecule ‘effectively reversed several of the symptoms’.
Dr Beckie Port, research manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: ‘We have no treatments that can slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s.’
But she added the discovery ‘may prove to be crucial in stopping Parkinson’s in its tracks’.
‘The evidence from this early stage study builds on our understanding of how alpha-synuclein is involved in Parkinson’s,’ Dr Port added.
‘It is vital we continue to support world-leading academics… and ensure results like these are turned into future treatments that are so desperately needed.’
It is not the first time researchers have tested the effects of anle138b. The latest research was published in Acta Neuropathologica.
Older scientific studies have shown it also reduces the build-up of alpha-synuclein clumps seen in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s.