AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


Steroid Originally Discovered in the Dogfish Shark Attacks Parkinsons-related Toxin in Animal Model

A synthesized steroid mirroring one naturally made by the dogfish shark prevents the buildup of a lethal protein implicated in some neurodegenerative diseases, reports an international research team studying an animal model of Parkinson’s disease. The clustering of this protein, alpha-synuclein (a-synuclein), is the hallmark of Parkinson’s and dementia with Lewy bodies, suggesting a new potential compound for therapeutic research. The pre-clinical study results show that squalamine prevents and eliminates a-synuclein build up inside neurons by unsticking the protein from the inner wall of nerve cells, where it clings and builds up into toxic clumps, researchers say. The animal model used for this study, C. elegans, is a nematode worm genetically engineered to produce human a-synuclein in its muscles. As these worms age, a-synuclein builds up within their muscle cells causing cell damage and paralysis.

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