(HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers say they've identified a potential new drug target to treat Parkinson's disease.
In experiments with cells and animals, a team at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease found that blocking the action of an enzyme called SIRT2 helps protect neurons damaged in Parkinson's disease from the toxic effects of the protein alpha-synuclein, which accumulates in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease.
Blocking SIRT2 may also help in the treatment of other neurodegenerative diseases in which abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain, the researchers said.
Their findings appear online on the Science Express Web site and will be published in an upcoming print issue of the journal Science.
"We have discovered a compelling new therapeutic approach for Parkinson's disease, which we expect will allow our scientists -- as well as those at pharmaceutical and biotech companies -- to pursue innovative new drugs that will treat and perhaps even cure this disorder," study leader Aleksey Kazantsev, director of the institute's Drug Discovery Laboratory, said in a prepared statement.
"Since the same sort of aggregation of misfolded proteins has been reported in Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases, we plan to test this approach in those conditions as well," Kazantsev said.
We Move has more about Parkinson's disease.