Probe detects the destruction of defective mitochondria
August 14 , 2020

—a neurodegenerative disease that causes shaking, muscle stiffness and progressive difficulties with movement.

Using a mouse model of Parkinson's disease, the researchers found that neurons that produced the  failed to eliminate defective mitochondria, but other neurons that did not produce dopamine did. Since Parkinson's disease is characterized by a dopamine deficiency in the brain, this suggests that the inability of dopamine-producing neurons to perform mitophagy could be a major factor in the disease.

By collaborating with researchers from the pharmaceutical company Takeda, Miyawaki's team identified a compound that can induce the destruction of . Such compounds could help to treat Parkinson's disease in the future.

The probe is promising for advancing research into other diseases. "Since many other neurodegenerative disorders involve mitophagy, our probe can contribute to their study," says Miyawaki. "Furthermore, diseases in other organs involve oxidative stress and hence mitophagy. We're currently using our probe to look at heart disease."

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