Researchers at the University of Japan are now testing a preventive gene therapy on lab rats that could reduce the onset of Parkinson’s disease among people which affects nearly 60,000 people across United States every year. As per information of Parkinson’s Foundation there are nearly 1 million in the US alone that are likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease by 2020. Though the disease is very widespread doctors are unsure about its causes so only symptomatic treatment is given for managing the condition. This problem urged researchers at Osaka University of Japan to explore if targeting a protein called alpha-synuclein could help to prevent or reverse the disease.
They tested a recently developed gene therapy in mice that were suffering from this neurological condition. Details of their research which were published in Scientific Reports show that this new approach is promising so further investigations should be carried out. Lead author of the study Takuya Uehara stated that though there are several drugs which treat Parkinson’s symptoms there are no drugs to control either the onset or progress of this disease which makes it tough to treat. So their main focus was on removing the physiological cause of the disease to prevent progress and also the onset.
The research team made replica sections of genetic material that would match the ones which correspond to alpha synuclein. They then used amido bridging technology to stabilize these genetic fragments which they termed as ASO. These fragments bind their matching genetic sequence that work as messenger RNA or mRNA. This mRNA then decodes genetic information and translates it to proteins. The ASO when tested on a mouse model was delivered to the brain without any chemical carriers making it a promising find. Co-author of the study Chi-Jing Choong stated that further tests of the therapy showed that ASO decreased production of alpha-synuclein in the mice and also reduced severity of Parkinson’s symptoms within 27 days of administering it.