Although some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be controlled by medication, the hope of researchers, patients, and clinicians is that we can discover a treatment that can stop or reverse the course of PD and eventually find a cure. Central to developing disease-modifying treatments is an understanding of the role of alpha-synuclein, a key protein found in everyone’s brain, that’s recognized as a cause of PD. New research published in Nature Communications may get us closer to that goal.
We know that alpha-synuclein helps neurons in the brain communicate with each other. But when it’s not functioning properly, it can clump together and kill healthy brain cells. The results of this study further our understanding of how alpha-synuclein “sticks like glue” to nerve cell membranes. Getting a clear picture of exactly how alpha-synuclein works will allow us to preserve its necessary role in our brains as we develop treatments for PD.