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Rice University opens new window on Parkinson's disease
Date:12/17/2012

ey started talking about his work with Mart, and Segatori quickly saw the potential of a partnership.

Segatori has made important strides in the study of diseases caused by proteins that misfold and clump together. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Gaucher diseases are examples, all the result of genetic mutations or conditions that disrupt the way proteins fold and keep them from performing their functions.

"There are a few compounds you can use to detect the presence of these types of protein aggregates, but none of them have been reported to work in cells," Segatori said. "When you're thinking about developing a therapeutic strategy, you want to be able to detect the presence of fibril aggregates in living cells, or even in animals. It's been very nice to collaborate with someone with the expertise to do this."

"The connection between Parkinson's and Alzheimer's is natural, although they are very different diseases because Alzheimer's beta amyloid peptides are extracellular, while the onset of Parkinson's is associated with alpha-synuclein protein inside cells," Mart said. "We always thought we could apply the same techniques we used for beta amyloids to probe the aggregation of other proteins.

"When we learned that Laura has cells that overexpress alpha-synuclein, we thought, 'That's perfect.' She had the system and we had the probes," he said.

Segatori pointed out the ruthenium complex has no therapeutic benefit for Parkinson's sufferers, but "is a step toward understanding the chemistry, which obviously will help in the development of drugs."

They see the possibility that metallic complexes can be tailored to tag aggregates implicated in other degenerative diseases. "Metal complexes are like Legos, in the sense that you can attach whatever you want to them," Cook said.

As a proof of principle, the researchers created an in vitro cell model of Parkinson's disease and found their ruthenium complexes clear
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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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