|On the dot: Researchers have found that GQDs reduce fibrils in mice with Parkinson's|
Quantum dots made from the carbon material graphene prevent alpha-synuclein from aggregating into strand-like structures known as fibrils. They also help disaggregate fibrils that have already formed. Alpha-synuclein fibrils are thought to be implicated in Parkinson’s disease because they kill dopamine-generating neurons, so the new findings might help in the development of therapies to treat this disease as well as others in which fibrilization occurs.
Synucleins are a family of proteins typically found in neural tissue. Researchers believe that one type of synuclein, alpha-synuclein, twists into fibrils, which then accumulate in the midbrain of patients with Parkinson’s. Treatments with efficient anti-aggregation agents might thus be one way of fighting the disease.
A team led by Byung Hee Hong of Seoul National University and Han Seok Ko of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have now found that graphene quantum dots (GQDs) bind to alpha-synuclein in vitro. Thanks to fluorescence and turbidity assays, as well as transmission electron microscopy measurements, the researchers found that the dots prevent alpha-synuclein from forming into fibrils. The nanostructures also dissociate already-formed fibrils into short fragments, with the average length of the fragments shortening from 1 micron to 235 nm and 70 nm after 6 and 24 hours respectively. The number of fragments starts to decrease after three days too and cannot be detected at all after seven days, which implies that the fibrils completely disintegrate after this time.
Could graphene quantum dots help treat Parkinson’s disease? Belle Dumé, Physics World