AlphaFold’s Impact on Parkinson’s Disease Research
The discovery of the structure of a protein called PINK1 by David Komander and his colleagues has paved the way for new treatments that can impact over 10 million people worldwide. Mutations in the gene that encodes this protein cause early-onset Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease. Other scientific teams previously published their own structures for the same protein, which led to contrasting results.
PINK1 plays a critical role in the breakdown and removal of mitochondria in the body. Mutations in the gene that encodes this protein can cause Parkinson’s disease. The structure of PINK1 was previously difficult to find and was unstable to produce. However, with the help of DeepMind’s AlphaFold, researchers found a new insight into the structure of PINK1, allowing for new possibilities in treating Parkinson’s.
The use of AlphaFold enabled the researchers to predict how certain mutations would affect the formation of the dimer. This has led to new insights and potential new treatments for the disease, which could change the way Parkinson’s is currently treated by addressing the fundamental cause of the condition.