AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


New Treatment Strategy Could Cut Parkinson's Disease Off at the Pass

Drug already in clinical trials for other conditions slows disease progression in mice

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have identified a protein that enables toxic natural aggregate to spread from cell to cell in a mammal’s brain – and a way to block that protein’s action. Their study in mice and cultured cells suggests that an immunotherapy already in clinical trials as a cancer therapy should also be tested as a way to slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers say.

Ted Dawson, MD, PhD, director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and one of the study’s leaders, says the new findings hinge on how aggregates of a-synuclein protein enter brain cells. Abnormal clumps of a-synuclein protein are found in autopsies of people with Parkinson’s disease and are thought to cause the death of dopamine-producing brain cells.

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