Scientists advancing work on therapeutic Parkinson's vaccine

Protein chemists from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are working towards the development of a therapeutic vaccine for the Parkinson’s disease.

Named after James Parkinson, the English physician that classified the disorder, Parkinson’s Disease can worsen over time, robbing people of their ability to accomplish everyday tasks. Symptoms include tremors or shaking, slow movements, unsteadiness, stiffness in the arms and legs and slurred speech. Parkinson’s is the second most common progressive neurological disorder, affecting one percent of the population over the age of 60, according to

Professor Rowen Chang believes his team of researchers from the UT Health Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases is making a positive step towards successfully treating the crippling disorder.

Chang’s research, reports, is building on previous preclinical vaccine research that demonstrated that reducing the buildup of the protein alpha synuclein limited nerve damage to Parkinson’s sufferers. Chang believes his team’s new approach will be a more effective form of Parkinson’s therapy

“We’re creating a vaccine to target a protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease,” Chang told “If we can slow the protein buildup, I believe we will also slow the deterioration of nerve cells tied to body movement.”

The research has already yielded positive results, identifying an immunogen - a trigger that causes the body to release antibodies used to protect against dangerous agents - that may prevent the accumulation of alpha synuclein.

The next step for the team is to test the effects of the immunogen in mouse models that express the human alpha synuclein protein. If these tests are successful, Chang believes clinical trial are a real possibility.