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Brain Clutter

November 10, 2010

An inability to clean up cellular waste may contribute to Parkinson’s disease.


Brain clutter and Parkinson’s…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A cellular housekeeping problem may contribute to the devastating impairments of Parkinson’s disease. This according to University of Cambridge neuro-geneticist David Rubinzstein and his colleagues. They found that a protein called alpha-synuclein, which accumulates in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, inhibits a natural clean-up process called autophagy.

DAVID RUBINZSTEIN (University of Cambridge):
It removes dysfunctional organelles like mitochondria. And if one looks at the literature on Parkinson’s disease, there’s a wealth of data suggesting there are mitochondrial abnormalities.

Autophagy also gets rid of clumped proteins linked with dementia and motor problems. The findings suggest that reinvigorating the cellular cleanup system may be a good strategy for future treatments. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.