Knowing structure of the alpha-synuclein protein associated with Parkinson’s disease could lead to diagnostic options
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Symptoms, developing gradually, include tremors, stiffness and reduced movement. A major problem of Parkinson’s disease is the lack of a diagnostic tool, resulting in challenges for doctors.
Researchers have recently identified the complex structure of the alpha-synuclein protein, which forms long fibrils, which are responsible for brain activity disruption in Parkinson’s patients. This is the first time researchers are able to see the structure of the protein, which is considered to be important for the pathology of Parkinson’s disease. The researchers were able to visualize the protein using a special type of molecular imaging known as magic-angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance.
Understanding the structure will allow researchers to explore the mechanism by which the protein works, increasing knowledge on Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have noted that knowing the structure could create diagnostic tools, such as targeting certain areas on the alpha-synuclein protein and allowing them to light up in brain scans, resulting in earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease before symptoms appear will allow for more effective therapies to be developed.
Written by Mariana Nikolova, BSc