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Extracting PD therapy from coffee

A U.S. team that included researchers from Signum Biosciences Inc. has identified a small molecule in coffee that increased motor function in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease.1 By blocking disease progression, the compound may be superior to marketed PD drugs that only improve symptoms.

The Signum-led group now will use a $295,000 grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to develop the compound-and others acting via the same mechanism-to treat PD.

Extensive phosphorylation of the a-synuclein (SNCA) protein at serine 129 is thought to be a driver of PD progression. Toxic aggregates of phosphorylated SNCA called Lewy bodies cause dysfunction and death of dopaminergic neurons in the brain, leading to the hallmark symptoms of the disease.

Instead of inhibiting the kinases that phosphorylate SNCA, the Signum team took an alternative approach to lowering phosphorylated SNCA levels. Their solution was to promote the activity of the brain's phosphatase enzymes, which remove phosphate groups

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