As researchers search for a therapy to slow or stop Parkinson’s disease (PD) progression, alpha-synuclein has emerged as a leading target. This protein clumps in the brains of nearly everyone with Parkinson’s and it’s the primary component of Lewy bodies, the pathological hallmark of PD. At the current time, five therapies representing varied approaches against alpha-synuclein are in different stages of clinical trial testing.
In an interview for Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Brian Fiske, PhD, senior vice president of research programs at MJFF, discussed the field’s focus on alpha-synuclein. “The real unmet medical need [in Parkinson’s] is a treatment that can target the underlying disease mechanism and can slow and ultimately halt the disease process. That’s where the excitement around targets like a-synuclein comes from.”
Why is Alpha-Synuclein?
The alpha-synuclein protein is a major component of Lewy bodies, clumps of aggregated protein that are a cardinal neuropathological feature of Parkinson’s disease. Mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene were some of the first linked to Parkinson’s disease and provide further evidence for its causal role in the disease. These strong pathological and genetic links make alpha-synuclein a key target for therapeutic development.
Shake It Up is excited to be funding research into Alpha Synuclein at the University of Queensland