Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have discovered that a promising therapeutics protein called BMP5/7 could slow down or even halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
The findings were published in clinical neurology journal, Brain.
Parkinson’s disease affects 1 percent of the population over the age of 60 which is 10 million worldwide or over one million Americans. Approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD each year in the U.S.
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This disease causes tremors and severe movement impairment due to progressive degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells. It is believed that the protein “alpha-synuclein,” present in all human brains, misfolds and forms toxic clumps in these cells, which causes the disease.
While current Parkinson’s disease therapies improve symptoms, they are not effective in advanced illness stages and, unfortunately, do not slow or cure the disease.
Dr. Claude Brodski, M.D., head of the BGU’s Laboratory for Molecular Neuroscience, discovered that BMP5/7 signaling in neurons was significantly reduced in dopamine-producing brain cells, which could contribute to Parkinson’s disease advancement.
Dr. Brodski said: “We found that BMP5/7 treatment can, in a mouse model, efficiently prevent movement impairments caused by the accumulation of alpha-synuclein and reverse the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.”
“These findings,” Dr. Brodski added, “are very promising since they suggest that BMP5/7 could slow or stop Parkinson’s disease progression. Currently, we are focusing all our efforts on bringing our discovery closer to clinical application.”
BGN Technologies, Ben-Gurion University’s technology transfer company, has filed several patent applications covering this breakthrough discovery.
“There is a vast need for new therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease, especially in advanced stages of the disease,” Dr. Galit Mazooz Perlmuter, senior vice president of business development, bio-pharma at BGN Technologies, notes, “Dr. Brodski’s findings, although still in their early stages, offer a disease-modified drug target that will address this devastating condition. We are now seeking an industry partner for further development of this patent-pending invention.”
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