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A. An Antibiotic Shows Promise in Fighting Parkinson's Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. An antibiotic that's long been used to treat tuberculosis and leprosy has shown promise fighting Parkinson's disease in lab tests. Tony Fink, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says the drug, called rifampacin, prevented the formation of protein fibrils associated with the death of brain cells that occur in Parkinson's disease.

Fink: We're interested in finding compounds that may be potentially effective as therapeutic agents as drugs to combat the disease. It's believed that one of the key steps in Parkinson's disease, in its development, is the formation of fibrils by a protein called alpha synuclein.

Narrator: In lab tests, Fink's group found that rifampicin stabilized alpha synuclein.

Fink: This is very basic research. In one sense, the purpose would be to allow us to develop new, potential drugs. Rifampicin itself has some drawbacks, so we're actively looking at other related compounds that may be more effective.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.