A research panel have discovered the three-dimensional structure of the protein Parkin, which offers hope in developing drugs to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. The discovery has enabled the scientists to design mutations in Parkin that make it better at recognising damaged mitochondria and therefore, possibly provide better protection for nerve cells.
The researchers from the McGill University, in association with Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and Department of Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine conducted the study. They found that Parkin is normally kept in check by a part of the protein that acts as a leash to restrict Parkin activity, to give them a link on to slow the disease’s progression.
The Parkin protein protects neurons from cell death due to an accumulation of defective mitochondria. Mitochondria are the batteries in cells, providing the power for cell functions.
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