"The results so far are very encouraging. These findings could herald a new approach to treating Parkinson's," said Jody Mason from the University of Bath in Britain.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition where brain cells die causing a lack of the chemical dopamine, which acts as a messenger that coordinates movement.

Parkinson's causes symptoms of tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.

In Parkinson's, a protein called I-synuclein becomes misshapen and stacks together to form long toxic fibrils that kill the brain cells. The new peptide that the researchers have designed binds to the faulty I-synuclein and stops fibrils from forming.

The researchers showed that the peptide halts the formation of fibrils in cells in-vitro and stops them dying.

"In Parkinson's, the protein called I-synuclein changes shape and stacks with other misshapen proteins," Mason noted.

"We have discovered a peptide that binds to the sticky part of the I-synuclein and covers it up, which stops the fibril growing,"  Mason added.

The team anticipates that if developed into a treatment, the peptide could help slow the progression of this degenerative disease.

The study appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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