The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space yesterday inked a collaboration to send a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease to the International Space Station.
The researchers plan to evaluate the protein’s growth under microgravity conditions, which could foster larger, more regular LRRK2 protein crystals to grow and give insight into the protein’s structure. A better understanding of LRRK2’s structure could help design therapies optimized against the protein.
“We’re thrilled that PD research has been selected to travel to the International Space Station and honored to partner with CASIS on behalf of the PD community here on Earth,” Michael J. Fox said in a video message.
The protein is slated to leave for the ISS no sooner than August 10. It will be taken as part of a cargo resupply mission, according to the foundation.
“The unique environment of the International Space Station untethers research from restrictions imposed by gravity,” CASIS president & executive director Gregory Johnson said in prepared remarks. “CASIS is glad to partner with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to explore the structure of this important piece of the Parkinson’s puzzle.”
LRRK2 is a key target in Parkinson’s research – mutations in the gene that encodes for this protein are linked to Parkinson’s disease. But scientists have yet to figure out the exact structure of this critical protein.