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Breakthrough could slow down or stop Parkinson’s progression

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There is currently no known cure for the condition

A breakthrough discovery has been made in the fight against Parkinson’s disease, with researchers discovering a protein which could slow down or stop its progression.

The protein BMP5/7 has been discovered to be significant in the advancement of the condition, which affects over 10 million people worldwide.

The development of treatment in this area could yield the long-awaited breakthrough in the ability to halt the progression of Parkinson’s, with work now advancing further in this field to bring it to clinical application.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, whose work has been published in neurology journal Brain, hailed their findings as being “very promising”.

Parkinson’s disease causes tremors and severe movement impairment due to progressive degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells.

It is believed that the protein alpha-synuclein, which is 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 do not slow or cure the disease.

“Indeed, we found that BMP5/7 treatment can, in a Parkinson’s disease mouse model, efficiently prevent movement impairments caused by the accumulation of alpha-synuclein and reverse the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells,” says Dr Claude Brodski, head of BGU’s laboratory for molecular neuroscience.

“These findings 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.”

In a previous study, the same group of researchers demonstrated that BMP5 and BMP7 play a key role in the development of dopamine-producing neurons, which are lost gradually over the course of Parkinson’s.

BGN Technologies, Ben-Gurion University’s technology transfer company, has filed several patent applications covering this breakthrough discovery.

Dr Galit Mazooz Perlmuter, senior vice president of business development, bio-pharma, at BGN Technologies, says: “There is a vast need for new therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease, especially in advanced stages of the disease.

“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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