Most neurodegenerative disorders are linked to some form of protein misfolding, which results in accumulation of the protein, neuronal dysfunction, and eventually cell death.
Two common examples:
- Parkinson’s disease, with the misfolded alpha-synuclein protein
- Alzheimer’s disease, with the misfolded tau protein
There are 5 distinct disorders characterized by the deposition of phosphorylated alpha-synuclein:
- Parkinson’s disease (PD)
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
- Multiple system atrophy (MSA)
- Pure autonomic failure (PAF)
- REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)
All synucleinopathies are characterized by the deposition of the pathological protein— phosphorylated α-synuclein—in the central and/or peripheral nervous systems, resulting in progressive neurological degeneration.
There are over 2 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with a synucleinopathy, with 100,000 new diagnoses each year. The annual healthcare costs in the US attributable to synucleinopathies are estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.