Alpha-synuclein is a protein that was first linked to Parkinson's 20 years ago. When Parkinson's develops, alpha-synuclein forms sticky clumps in the brain known as Lewy Bodies. These sticky clumps spread through the brain stopping it from functioning fully. This brings on the symptoms of Parkinson's, including freezing and shaking.
Professor Spillantini was part of the team that discovered this link.
Professor Spillantini's research will test a new compound to see if it can have an effect on alpha-synuclein and in turn reduce Parkinson's symptoms. It can be difficult to deliver drugs accurately to target the right protein. But Professor Spillantini has successfully found a way of making this compound work more effectively.
If the research finds that this compound is effective against alpha-synuclein, this could lead to further testing and clinical trials to explore if it is safe to use in people, and if it will help Parkinson's symptoms. And if the trials go well, it could potentially be used as a new Parkinson's treatment.
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"Understanding how alpha-synuclein is involved in the processes that ultimately cause Parkinson's, and finding ways to target this rogue protein, could be the key to new treatments."