Parkinson’s disease is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disease. There are several countries where more than 300,000 people are affected by the disease, and, at a time, experience major limitations to their quality of life.
The disease often starts with a tremor in one hand. Other symptoms of the disease include stiffness, slow movement, and loss of balance.
Although Parkinson’s is so widespread throughout the world, there is still no treatment that might target the cause of the disease, and eventually, stop it on its track. Some medications can help control the symptoms of the disease to an extent. However, current research provides new hope as a research team takes an innovative approach towards developing future treatments for the disease.
Development of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease develops due to nerve cells dying off in the midbrain, otherwise known as mesencephalon. Faulty disposal of damaged mitochondria is responsible for this condition. When the damaged mitochondria (power plants of the cells) are not disposed of properly, oxygen radicals start developing in the brain. Eventually, these damage the nerve cells, causing them to die.
To dispose of mitochondria, they need to be marked by a signaling substance. The enzyme Parkin is responsible for labeling the damaged mitochondria. This label contains the protein ubiquitin.
FAT10 – The Villain
FAT10 has a very similar structure and functioning to ubiquitin. Moreover, it also acts as a signaling substance which labels other molecules for disposal. Unfortunately, FAT10 is the wrong label for mitochondria. This protein not only damages the power plants of the cells but also the enzyme Parkin for the body to dispose of.
The research team is in search of an inhibitor for FAT10, which could be used to limit the disposal of Parkin and ensure that the damaged mitochondria are labeled and disposed of properly.