Could an existing drug halt Parkinson’s disease?

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Researchers have discovered a mechanism through which toxic protein clusters develop in the brain in Parkinson’s disease. It may be treatable with drugs approved for another disease.

In a paper published in the journal Neuron, the scientists describe how they discovered that increasing a fatty substance, or lipid, called glucosylceramide causes a buildup of toxic clusters of alpha-synuclein protein inside dopamine-producing brain cells.

The team also revealed that treatment with an already approved glucosylceramide synthase inhibitor — a drug that reduces production of the lipid — reduced the toxic protein clusters, which are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

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