Argentine scientists succeed in inhibiting in vitro a key aspect of the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson’s disease
A research team in structural neurobiology succeeded in elucidating a key aspect related to the degenerative process of the neurons in Parkinson’s disease. This finding sets the ground for scientists to work in the design of drugs which may be registered as patents in our country.
Head of the Structural Neurobiology Lab of the IBR.
A team of scientists of the Institute of Molecular and Celular Biology of Rosario (IBR), led by biochemist and pharmacist Claudio Fernández, is working to design a strategy that would enable therapeutic intervention in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson. This development was possible thanks to the two research projects funded by the National Agency for Science and technology Promotion through the Scientific and Technology Research Projects (PICT) credit line of the Fund for Scientific and Technological Research (FONCyT).
Both Alzheimer and Parkinson have their origin in a process known as amiloidosis by which molecules accumulate in a region of the neurons, resulting in malfunctioning of the brain with irreversible and fatal consequences. This process is a mechanism by which certain proteins leave their soluble state to add up or associate among themselves. When this happens at cerebral level, said formations are deposited in different zones, causing the progressive loss of neurons.
After several years of work in the area, Dr. Fernández, an independent researcher of the CONICET, together with members of the Structural Neurobiology group of the IBR, succeeded in elucidating the tridimensional form of the protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease and, in the year 2009, they identified the critical regions of said protein to unchain the amiloidosis process. Based on these findings, the scientists from Rosario were able to design and produce in the lab alternatives of the proteins incapable of grouping themselves. In other words, they managed to inhibit in vitro a key aspect of the degenerative process of this disease.
Currently, the National University of Rosario (UNR) is planning to construct a building which will allow the incorporation of different scientific groups to continue research in a multidiscipline environment where drugs may be designed and later registered as patents in our country with the support of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation.
Placing a bet on science in Argentina
In the year 2006 researcher Alejandro Vila of the IBR was in charge of the project for acquiring and installing a 600Mhz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (RMN) equipment prepared for structural studies of biologic macromolecules. The acquisition of the spectrometer was funded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation through the Agency.
It was the first high filed RMN spectrometer available in the country and the third in Latin America, prepared for the study of the structure and dynamics of biological molecules. The installation of the 600 MHz spectrometer in the IBR allowed Dr. Fernández to return to his country after several years of work in the prestigious Max Planck institute in Germany, an entity which has adopted him as an associated research group.
In the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR), Dr. Fernández again placed a bet on the development of science in our country and formed a new research group on structural neurobiology in the space of the Technology Scientific Center of Rosario (CCT-Rosario) which depends on the CONICET, where it was possible to discover Parkinson’s inhibition process. The existence of this working equipment set a precedent in Structural Biology, a vacant area in our country, developing projects which in the past had to be performed abroad, and mainly forming human resources in this discipline.