A team of scientists say they have developed a drug that blocks the SIRT2 enzyme, which protects the neurons damaged by Parkinson's disease. In an article to come out this week in the journal Science, researchers at Harvard show how inhibition of SIRT2--a member of the sirtuin family, which is linked to aging--prevents the toxicity of the protein aggregates that are believed to be behind the neuronal death characteristic of PD. Contrary to "classic" approaches that try to eliminate these aggregates, SIRT2 inhibition appears to work by "fusing" many small protein aggregates into larger (apparently less neuro-toxic) ones.
In addition, researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have also used an AAV virus to deliver a gene to the brains of 11 volunteers with Parkinson's disease. The gene is a regulator of GABA, a neurotransmitter. There were no side effects from the therapy and the treatment helped reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's for up to four years.