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Understanding Parkinson's Disease

About 40,000 Americans a year are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a chronic, progressive, neurologic disorder that destroys brain tissue, and impairs motor skills and speech. Abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein are thought to be a cause at the cellular-level. About 5 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (caused by small peptide called amyloid-beta). It is not widely known, but a significant number of Parkinson's patients also have Alzheimer's. Researchers confirmed that in this case, amyloid-beta interacts with the alpha-synuclein and actually makes Parkinson's symptoms worse. By modeling how alpha-synuclein can form pore-like structures and interacts with amyloid-beta, Igor Tsigelny and his colleagues at SDSC and UCSD have gained new insights to help researchers better understand this combination disease. This image shows the molecular modeling of the hybrid of a-synuclein oligomer (white) and Amyloid-beta (orange) in the plasma membrane of an affected neuron. In research funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, these simulations were done on SDSC's and at the Argonne National Laboratory Blue Gene supercomputers.
Credit: I. Tsigelny, Y. Sharikov, M. Miller, E. Masliah, SDSC/UC San Diego
Source: San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego

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Additional info:Fatal Protein Interactions May Explain Neurological Diseases

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