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Researchers buoyed by molecule’s potential to slow Parkinson’s progress

26 January 2017

Human brain

A naturally occurring molecule in the brain, when used as a therapy, may hold a key to stopping the progression of Parkinson’s disease, new research has found.

The potent anti-inflammatory effects of the molecule activin A were shown in laboratory trials to offer protection against the loss of dopamine neurons, the brain cells that are destroyed in Parkinson’s disease.

UTS Professor of Neuroscience Bryce Vissel, who led the research, said the findings were an important step in understanding why the death of certain nerve cells occurs in Parkinson’s and how that might be arrested.

“Despite decades of research, the underlying causes of Parkinson’s remain unknown and the most effective treatment is only symptomatic and comes with its own set of complications over time.

“We’ve taken activin A, a growth factor that occurs naturally in the body, applied it into the brains of mice in laboratory tests and found exciting beneficial effects.”

Professor Vissel said the molecule’s anti-inflammatory effects in the brain add fuel to the idea that inflammation is a key factor in the disease’s development.

Read the full story in the Newsroom.