December 29, 2016 – Misfolded Proteins


Anchor lead:  What do proteins that are the wrong shape have to do with Parkinson’s disease? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Proteins are the body’s currency, used as building blocks, messengers, and a host of other functions, but they must be properly folded to carry out their function. Now a new study describes a technique to detect a misfolded protein called alpha-synuclein that may be the earliest marker yet of Parkinson’s disease. Ted Dawson, a PD expert at Johns Hopkins, says this technique has enormous implications.

Dawson: Most if not all neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by abnormally folded proteins. There’s this big emerging hypothesis in the field that these abnormal proteins template, that they cause the normal proteins to fold abnormally, and than it spreads from cell to cell.  And that’s what accounts for the progression.  And one of the big questions in the field is is it a bystander or the cause?  :26

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.