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Scientists put forward a strategy to protect against pesticide linked Parkinson’s Disease

A new study carried out by scientists from the world famous UCLA has given us further insights into how Ziram, a fungicide, can cause the loss of the source of dopamine in the central nervous system (CNS).

It’s long been known that coming into contact with common pesticides, particularly those of the dithiocarbamates group, can lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. However, the mechanisms responsible for this have, so far, not been completely understood. This new study gives an insight into the toxicity of these compounds, together with a possible strategy to help protect against developing the disease. As environmental factors, such as exposure to pesticides, are implicated in most cases of Parkinson’s, the team’s findings go a long way to supporting a targeted approach on this protein in order to slow down or stop the progression of the disease.

Ziram is a commonly used fungicide which is used in agricultural areas, and is known to cause the loss of dopaminergic neurons, the source of dopamine, which is associated with Parkinson’s. The damage starts when ziram begins to increase the concentration of the α-synuclein protein in the brain which then causes these proteins to clump together. This results in damage to neighbouring neurons.

In order to conduct their research, the scientists developed a model of Parkinson’s in zebrafish, which were then exposed to ziram. This caused them to lose dopamine, and lose their ability to swim properly.  The researchers then eliminated the α-synuclein protein in the fish and once again exposed them to the fungicide. This time the ziram didn’t make the fish sick and they were able to swim as normal.

The next stage of the research involved the scientists giving an investigational drug to the non-protected zebra fish. This drug, known as CLR01, is currently being developed at UCLA and is able to break up the clumps of accumulated protein. The team found that CLR01 offered the zebrafish protection from the Parkinson’s-like condition.

Lead author of the study, Jeff Bronstein, confirmed that their work had offered valuable insights into the mechanisms of the toxicity of ziram, and suggested that with a better understanding of the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s, new treatments and eventually a cure will be found.

The study was published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

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