UCLA researchers stop Parkinson's progression in animal tests

Flexibility testing at a Parkinson's clinic.
Flexibility testing at a Parkinson's clinic.
Raleigh Neurology/Flickr

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A possible breakthrough has happened in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. UCLA researchers have found a way to stop the progression of the disease in animal tests.

Parkinson’s is a disease that strikes the nervous system, affecting one’s movements. So far, there are no treatments to stop its progression. Medical professionals aren't even sure what actually causes it.

But researchers do believe one particular protein in the brain plays a role. It’s found in clumps in all Parkinson's patients.

Researchers at UCLA have created a compound that prevents the protein from clumping. They call it a "molecular tweezer." In live animal tests, the compound binds to that protein, prevents it from aggregating and even breaks up existing clumps.

Most importantly, the compound did this without appearing to harm normal brain cells.

The study was done with transparent zebrafish. Now the findings are being applied to mice. Human trials, they hope, will be next.