Penn Study Links Protein with Spread and Cell Death in Parkinson’s Disease

The latest study, coming out of Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, published in the latest issue of Science, is garnering attention from scientists, advocacy groups and news outlets alike.

From the Penn Medicine press release:

In short, the Penn researchers found that, in healthy mice, a single injection of synthetic, misfolded α-Syn fibrils led to a cell-to-cell transmission of pathologic α-Syn proteins and the formation of Parkinson’s α-Syn clumps known as Lewy bodies in interconnected regions of the brain. Their findings appear in this week’s issue of Science. The team was led by senior author Virginia M.-Y Lee, PhD, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and first author Kelvin C. Luk, PhD, research assistant professor in the CNDR.

The major significance of the paper is that it resolves the long-standing controversy about the role of α-Syn Lewy bodies in the degeneration of substantia nigra dopamine neurons, thereby sharpening the focus on Lewy bodies as targets for discovery of disease modifying therapy for Parkinson patients.

Drs. Lee and Luk help explain the study here, in this video:

News outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Scientist, Nature, Scientific American, Discover and Bloomberg, as well as the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s FoxFeed blog are also sharing the news.

As the Penn Medicine press release notes, “The team is now working on an antibody therapy in these mouse models to stop propagation of rogue misfolded α-Syn. What’s more, both the cell culture and the mouse models will facilitate the identification of novel targets for PD therapy.”

We’ll post updates to any additional coverage here. Stay tuned!

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