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Image of the Month: Puzzling Parkinson’s Disease

Image of the Month: Puzzling Parkinson’s Disease


Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have long been puzzling over how Parkinson's Disease works in our bodies. Now, neurologist Xiaobo Mao, has completed a piece of this puzzle by pinpointing the section of the disease-causing protein that allows it to latch onto brain cells like the one shown here.

In Parkinson’s disease, misfolded alpha-synuclein binds and clumps onto the surface of neurons, ultimately killing these cells as the protein piles up. The research team focused on a region at the tip of the misfolded alpha-synuclein. They determined that two chemical groups in the C terminus work together to attach alpha-synuclein to neuron receptors.

Understanding how the faulty protein infiltrates healthy nerves is the first step towards stopping it, says Mao.

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