SCOTS researchers have discovered a breakthrough in future treatments against Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers from the University of Dundee have discovered a small molecule that helps to eliminate a Parkinson’s disease-causing protein.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting more than 10 million people worldwide.
No cure is available and current treatment is limited to symptomatic management.
Researchers from the University’s Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) and MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) have made significant strides towards developing new therapies.
This is done through the design of XL01126, a small molecule that degrades a protein known to play a key role in the development of Parkinson’s.
The protein, Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2), is one of the most important and promising targets for developing treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
Until now though, scientists have only been able to inhibit its function rather than destroying it completely.
XL01126 eliminates LRRK2 from within the cell by utilising the cell’s natural waste disposal system.
The research also demonstrated that XL01126 can be taken orally and can be detected in the brain in mice.
These are two sought-after features of drugs targeting neurodegenerative diseases that can be very challenging to achieve.
The Dundee team, led by Dr Xingui Liu and Dr Alexia Kalogeropulou, believe XL01126 will be a very useful research tool compound and has the potential to lead to therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Kalogeropulou said: “The discovery of XL01126 provides an exciting alternative strategy to target LRRK2 in addition to conventional LRRK2 kinase inhibitors.
“It can be a tool compound to decipher LRRK2 biology.”
Dr Liu added: “We are thrilled to see that XL01126 not only potently degrades LRRK2 in multiple cell lines, but also exhibits unexpected pharmacokinetic properties.
“Being orally bioavailable and blood-brain barrier permeable means that further development of PROTAC degraders as therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease is possible.”
XL01126 takes the field of targeted protein degradation (TPD) one step closer to developing drugs against neurodegenerative diseases.
The next steps in developing the treatment are currently underway with further pre-clinical studies to establish safety and effectiveness.
Targeted protein degradation co-opts the cell’s natural disposal systems to remove disease-causing proteins and is applicable to diverse therapeutic areas including oncology, inflammation, dermatology, immunology and respiratory diseases.
Dundee researchers and teams have previously revealed fundamental insights into the working of the degrader molecules that they have designed and that are used across the globe.