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What's Hot in PD? Lymphoctye Activation Gene 3 (LAG3) Antibodies as a Potential Future Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

What's Hot in PD? - October 2016

Ted Dawson, PhD, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University, a National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence, have uncovered a potential new approach to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD). Researchers in Dawson’s laboratory focused on a protein called lymphocyte-activation gene 3, known as LAG3. This protein has been shown to be important in cell to cell transfers of α-synuclein (Lewy bodies), which is a protein found in the brain of a person with PD. The spread and deposition of α-synuclein throughout the brain has been a hallmark of the underlying study of Parkinson’s.

Since LAG3 is a transmembrane protein, meaning it can be found spanning from the outside to the inside of a cell, it is possible that it can also help direct traffic in and out of cells. This may play a vital role in PD’s developmental process. When Dawson’s team removed the LAG3 protein from a mouse and introduced α-synuclein, the mouse did not develop Parkinson’s symptoms. The team also observed the behavior of these cells in a dish when LAG3 was present or removed. Dawson’s team found that taking away LAG3 halted the spread of α-synuclein. Inversely, the mice that still had the LAG3 protein exhibited Parkinson’s symptoms once the α-synuclein was introduced.

Dawson and his team have suggested that antibodies against LAG3 may be a feasible target for human Parkinson’s disease clinical trials. These LAG3 antibodies may even be repurposed from existing cancer therapies (IMP321, Immutep, Paris). We will keep you posted on the development of LAG3 and other immune approaches that can be used as a possible Parkinson’s treatment.

Selected Reference

Mao, X., Dawson, TM. Pathological α-synuclein transmission initiated by binding lymphocyte-activation gene 3. Science  30 Sep 2016: Vol. 353, Issue 6307, DOI: 10.1126/science.aah3374.

You can find out more about PF's National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the Center of Excellence, University of Florida Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. Dr. Okun is also the author of the Amazon #1 Parkinson's Best Seller 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease. You can read more from Dr. Okun in the What's Hot in PD? archives.