Jaguar Super Provides Clue to Parkinson’s Disease

Scientific Computing World reports that researchers at North Carolina State University are using the Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to discover how copper induces misfolding in the protein associated with Parkinson’s disease. This folding leads to creation of the fibrillar plaques which characterize the disease. This finding has implications for the study of Parkinson’s progression, as well as for future treatments.

We knew that the copper was interacting with a certain section of the protein, but we didn’t have a model for what was happening on the atomic level,’ said Frisco Rose, lead author of the paper describing the research. ‘Think of a huge swing set, with kids all swinging and holding hands—that’s the protein. Copper is a kid who wants a swing. There are a number of ways that copper could grab a swing, or bind to the protein, and each of those ways would affect all of the other kids on the swing set differently. We wanted to find the specific binding process that leads to misfolding.’

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