November 1, 2016 – Parkinson’s Pathology
Anchor lead: Could Parkinson’s disease spread from cell to cell like an infection? Elizabeth Tracey reports
A protein known by the acronym LAG3 may be the key to understanding how Parkinson’s disease progresses in the brain, research by Ted Dawson and colleagues at Johns Hopkins and published in Science shows. Dawson says the protein interacts with a toxic substance called alpha synuclein, known to be involved in Parkinson’s.
Dawson: We found that LAG3 was required for the internalization of alpha synuclein, for the pathology, for the transmission. When we knocked out the gene we could block the pathology, the transmission, and the cell death. This suggests that interfering antibodies to LAG3 or small molecules, could potentially be novel neuroprotective therapies for Parkinson’s disease. :29
Dawson says the alpha synuclein clumps that aggregate in areas of the brain known to be involved in Parkinson’s spread from cell to cell much like an infection does, so stopping them from entering cells at all should halt the process. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.