Professor Tiago Fleming Outeiro and his team make progress on Parkinson's disease
An international team of scientists, led by Portuguese researcher Tiago Fleming Outeiro, has established that two proteins associated with Parkinson's diseaseinteract and react to genetic mutations. The discovery may be a "key" that could open the door to new possibilities of treatment for the disease.
The proteins in question are DJ-1 and alfa-synuclein. It is known that modifications in the genes encoding these two proteins are responsible for common types of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative pathology of the nervous system which manifests itself through tremours, stiffness, instability of posture and walking abnormalities.
"Our study has demonstrated that the interaction between the two proteins is vital: if any genetic modification occurs in either of them, interaction between them is affected, which causes problems in cells and lead to their death", stated the researcher.
The team, made up of scientists working in institutions in Portugal, Germany, the United Kingdom and Denmark, used advanced microscopy to prove that the interaction between DJ-1 and alfa-synuclein "is affected when genetic mutations associated with Parkinson's disease are present".
Such genetic modifications were performed in the laboratory and introduced in the proteins of human cells and of yeast (simple cells which can be easily genetically manipulated).
The next step of the team will be to "identify drugs or molecules which intefere with the interaction" of the proteins "in a benefitial way", for therapuetic purposes, the researcher declared to the Lusa agency.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Molecular Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, and of the University of Göttingen, Germany, in cooperation with scientists from the United Kingdom and Denmark.
The results were published in the journal "Cell Death and Disease".
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(Source: IMM press release)