Research highlight

Organic chemistry: Channelling new treatments for Parkinson’s disease?

Nature Communications

October 24, 2012

The first molecule that is selective for a particular type of ion-channel protein that is implicated in Parkinson’s disease is reported in Nature Communications this week. The chemical compound could prove to be a new drug candidate for the treatment of the disease.

Various subtypes of calcium channels exist in the brain, and calcium channels containing a particular subunit are thought to have a role in Parkinson’s disease. Drugs that selectively target this particular calcium channel subtype may therefore be useful for treating the disease. Selectivity of drugs is known to be important to achieve effective alleviation of symptoms whilst limiting side-effects. Richard Silverman and colleagues screened chemical libraries to identify compounds that bind to the calcium channel that is implicated in Parkinson’s disease. The team then modified the compound to produce a potent and selective inhibitor of the calcium channel subtype.

With further development the work could lead to a new avenue of enquiry for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2149

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