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Home Industry News ‘Supercomputer’ offers hope for Parkinson’s sufferers

‘Supercomputer’ offers hope for Parkinson’s sufferers

26th March 2007

Scientists in the US believe they have made a breakthrough that could offer hope to people suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Using the ‘supercomputer’ at the University of California in San Diego, a model has been developed for the process of aggregation of the protein alpha-synuclein.

Alpha-synuclein can lead to the formation of harmful ring-like or pore-like structures in human membranes found in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients.

The study, published in the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) journal, suggested that the model could be used to help identify and block production of this protein.

“This is one of the first studies to use supercomputers to model how alpha-synuclein complexes damage the cells, and how that could be blocked,” said Eliezer Masliah, professor of neurosciences and pathology at the University of California in San Diego.

“We believe that these ring or pore-like structures might be deleterious to the cells, and we have a unique opportunity to better understand how alpha-synuclein is involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease, and how to reverse this process.”

As well as confirming previous studies suggesting that alpha-synuclein led to pore-like structures in membranes, the research also found that beta-synuclein could block this process.

The San Diego Supercomputer Centre (SDSC) was established in 1985 and now works with 40 academic institutions throughout the US.

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