Parkinson’s disease remains one of the most untreatable medical conditions of modern times, with seemingly little progress being made towards a cure, or for that matter, even a means of slowing its inexorable progress. We take a look at one of the small steps being taken in the right direction.
Vitamin B12 is identified as the inhibitor of a key enzyme in hereditary Parkinson’s disease — ScienceDaily
Although most cases of Parkinson’s are sporadic, the inheritable variants of the disease are mainly associated with mutations of the gene that encodes the LRRK2 enzyme. In 2004 an international research team, in which researchers from the Basque Country participated, established the link between one of the mutations in this enzyme and patients diagnosed with the disease.
So the LRRK2 enzyme, which is also known internationally by the name “dardarina,” the Basque word that means tremor, has become one of the most attractive therapeutic targets for developing new drugs to combat inheritable Parkinson’s. Neurotoxicity, or the pathogenic effects as a whole associated with LRRK2, is mainly due to the fact that pathogenic mutations increase the kinase activity of this enzyme, which has prompted an international race to develop inhibitors. Right now, specific, powerful inhibitors of the kinase activity of LRRK2 do in fact exist. Yet many of them cause undesirable side effects or produce very unclear clinical results.
So according to the study, vitamin B12 has turned out to be a new class of modulator of the kinase activity of LRRK2, which, as Iban Ubarretxena pointed out, “constitutes a huge step forward because it is a neuroprotective vitamin in animal models and has a mechanism unlike that of currently existing inhibitors. So it could be used as a basis to develop new therapies to combat hereditary Parkinson’s associated with pathogenic variants of the LRRK2 enzyme.”