How does your protein fold?

To do their jobs properly inside cells, proteins must first fold themselves into the correct shape. If they don't, trouble can result.

Hundreds of conditions, including Parkinson's, involve proteins that misfold and stick together which means cells can't work properly and eventually die.

In Parkinson's, the main culprit seems to be a protein called alpha-synuclein which misfolds and forms sticky clumps called Lewy bodies in the nerve cells that die. And research that we've funded has shown that alpha-synuclein may be responsible for the spread of the condition throughout the brain.

So finding ways to stop key proteins - like alpha-synuclein - misfolding holds great promise for developing new and better treatments.

Now, 2 exciting new research studies from a US research team may bring the hunt for new treatments closer.

In the first, published in PLoS Genetics, they pinpointed 9 genes that seem to play a vital role in keeping proteins inside cells healthy. And in the second, published in Nature Genetics, they identified 30 small molecules that help cells make sure their proteins are properly folded - which may have potential for treating conditions like Parkinson's.

These studies suggest that the key to folding may be 'chaperones' - proteins whose job is to help other proteins fold correctly and to help dismantle and remove damaged or misfolded proteins from our cells.

One of our current research projects, led by Professor Chris Moody at the University of Nottingham, aims to develop new drugs for Parkinson's that work by targeting chaperones (PDF file).

Parkinson's UK members recently visited Chris Moody's lab to hear more about his project.

There are lots of ways that people living with Parkinson's can get involved in our research. What would you like to do? Email us on

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a mother of a young son diagnosed with YOPD, may I wish all these researchers a speedy course to finding improved treatments and even a cure for this disease...

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.