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Calcium link to Parkinson’s

Tuesday February 20th, 2018

Calcium channel blockers could be investigated as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease following new discoveries at Cambridge University, researchers have stated.

The researchers have linked excess calcium to the biological processes that cause the disease.

According to the research, published in Nature Communications, it is either excess calcium levels or the protein alpha-synuclein which triggers the process leading to neuronal death in Parkinson’s.

Aggregated deposits of the protein become Lewy bodies.

The researchers say they are the first to show that calcium influences the behaviour of the protein – leading to changes in its structure and its interaction with the environment.

They used super-microscopy to study the behaviour of the protein within cells.

Researcher Dr Amberley Stephens said: "There is a fine balance of calcium and alpha-synuclein in the cell, and when there is too much of one or the other, the balance is tipped and aggregation begins, leading to Parkinson's disease.”

Fellow researcher Dr Janin Lautenschläger said: “This is the first time we've seen that calcium influences the way alpha-synuclein interacts with synaptic vesicles.

"We think that alpha-synuclein is almost like a calcium sensor. In the presence of calcium, it changes its structure and how it interacts with its environment, which is likely very important for its normal function."

C-terminal calcium binding of ?-synuclein modulates synaptic vesicle interaction Nature Communications 19 February 2018 [abstract]

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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