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Parkinson’s Research Sheds Light On Possible Treatment, Biomarkers

Purdue University researchers Jean-Christophe “Chris” Rochet and Dr. Riyi Shi say their discovery of a key factor in the development of Parkinson’s disease could lead to new therapies. (Photo courtesy of Alex Kumar/Purdue University)

Purdue researchers have discovered how a molecule plays into the development of Parkinson’s disease. The findings point to treatment that’s already on the market as well as new biomarkers.

The research focuses on a compound called acrolein that acts as a neuro-toxin, killing brain cells.  Extensive damage of these cells can result in Parkinson’s disease.

Purdue University Medical science professor Riyi Shi  has focused on this topic for more than 10 years.  This recent research successfully used a high blood pressure drug on animal models.

“We used this compound to remove the acrolein and lower the acroleins,” says Shi.

The ability to slow lower these levels could slow the disease.

“If we try to rescue them and we need to know how and why they die then we can begin to think how to prevent those process,” says Shi.

He cautions that other animal studies have shown promise, but have not lead to therapies to stop the progression of Parkinson’s.

The research also focuses on how biomarkers like a urine test for acrolein may aid in early detection. Shi says that could lead to early diagnosis and prevention.

“This will enable us to detect acrolein elevations in humans because urine is easy to collect,” says Shi.

Parkinson’s is the second leading neurological cause of death, behind Alzheimer’s.

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