Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that a protein associated with causing neurodegenerative conditions may, when appearing in normal amounts, actually protect against neurodegeneration.
The findings, appearing in todays issue of the journal Cell, have surprised the researchers, because an excess of the same specific protein - alpha-synuclein - causes Parkinsons disease.
"Its the first time that anyone has shown that synuclein has any positive function at all in the body, and this is important because its been known to be involved in neurodegeneration," said Dr. Thomas Südhof, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Basic Neuroscience. Dr. Südhof also is an investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
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