Jan. 16, 2017 (medicalxpress) -- Squalamine is a steroid which was discovered in the 1990s in dogfish sharks, although the form now used by scientists is a safer, synthetic analogue. To date, it has been extensively investigated as a potential anti-infective and anticancer therapy.
The findings, although only preliminary, suggest that the compound, called squalamine, could be exploited in various ways as the basis of a potential treatment for Parkinson's Disease. The compound has previously been used in clinical trials for cancer and eye conditions in the United States, and a trial in Parkinson's Disease patients is now being planned by one of the researchers involved in the study.
But in the new study, researchers discovered that squalamine also dramatically inhibits the early formation of toxic aggregates of the protein alpha-synuclein -- a process thought to start a chain reaction of molecular events eventually leading to Parkinson's Disease. Remarkably, they also then found that it can suppress the toxicity of these poisonous particles.
The researchers tested squalamine in both cell cultures in the lab, and in an animal model using nematode worms. While their findings therefore only represent a step towards a treatment for Parkinson's Disease in humans, they described the results as representing significant progress.