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Scientists shed light on what causes brain cell death in Parkinson's patients
Date:1/7/2011

red parkin lacked the capacity to break down other proteins, leading to harmful clumps of unprocessed protein in the neuron. The scientists believe this accumulation leads to progressive neuron death, resulting in Parkinson's symptoms that worsen over time.

Implications

"When we blocked tyrosine kinase c-Abl activation, parkin function was preserved and neurons were spared," Dr. Imam said. "We believe these studies provide sound rationale for moving forward with a preclinical trial of tyrosine kinase c-Abl inhibitors, with the goal of developing a potent therapeutic drug for slowing the progression of Parkinson's."

If preclinical trials in animal models of Parkinson's disease yield positive results, the next step would be clinical trials in human patients, Dr. Imam said.

Tyrosine kinase c-Abl inhibitors are approved by the FDA for treating myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal tumors. This could speed approval of the drug for Parkinson's and its translation from bench research to clinical practice.

"The race is on to understand the mechanism of the 95 percent of Parkinson's cases with no known cause, and our finding certainly is a building block," Dr. Imam said. "We have found a specific signaling mechanism that is only turned on by oxidative stress and is selective only to Parkinson's-affected neurons of the nigra-striatum, which is the area that sends signals for balance to the cerebellum."


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Contact: Will Sansom
sansom@uthscsa.edu
210-567-2579
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert

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