A build up and clustering (or aggregation) of the toxic protein alpha synuclein is one of the cardinal features of the Parkinsonian brain. These dense aggregated clusters known as Lewy bodies are found in neurons in certain regions of the brain in many people with Parkinson's, and are believed to be associated with the disease process.

Recently, scientists from the University of Cambridge in the UK published new research - supported by the Cure Parkinson's Trust - in which they tested a new treatment that breaks down the protein aggregates. Their research suggests that this approach could be neuroprotective in Parkinson's.

This treatment, called Anle138b, has previously been shown to inhibit the development of alpha synuclein protein aggregates -  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23604588).

In this new study, Anle138b was able to rescue neurons in a new laboratory model of alpha synuclein-associated Parkinson's, even when the treatment was initiated after the loss of neurons had begun.

The data suggests that Anle138b appears to not only interfere with the formation of new aggregates, but also with the recruitment of normal (un-aggregated) alpha synuclein to existing aggregates. While this new research is very exciting, Anle138b has not been tested in humans and we will therefore need to wait until further safety tests have been carried out in humans before we see a clinical evaluation of it in people with Parkinson's.