Synuclein and the Coelacanth

Synuclein and the Coelacanth

The Molecular and Evolutionary Origins of Parkinson's Disease

1st Edition - January 31, 2021

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  • Author: James Gruschus
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323857079
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323899680

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Most neurodegenerative diseases have animal parallels such as Alzheimer’s in chimpanzees, multiple sclerosis in macaques, Lou Gehrig’s disease in dogs, but nothing like Parkinson’s has ever been seen in any species but humans. Synuclein and the Coelacanth: The Molecular and Evolutionary Origins of Parkinson's Disease delves into the causes of Parkinson’s disease and how the evolution of the human brain has left us uniquely vulnerable. Genetic risk factors, environmental toxins, and neuroanatomy are woven together in a multidisciplinary discussion that ranges from subatomic physics to socioeconomics. Connections between neurodegenerative disease, neural pathways, and innate immunity are explored. Finally, the author discusses new therapeutic agents are being developed that hope to go beyond just treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s and actually halt the disease.

Key Features

  • Proposes a new hypothesis on the origins of Parkinson’s disease
  • Examines genetic risk factors, environmental toxins, and neuroanatomy of PD
  • Highlights new therapeutic treatment options in development for patients


Researchers and medical professionals in neuroscience and molecular biology. Patients and families interested in learning more about the science of Parkinson’s disease

Table of Contents

  • 1. Out of the Depths - The synuclein proteins, their evolution, and the genetic code
    2. Bad News, Good News - The demographics and genetic and environmental risk factors for Parkinson’s disease
    3. The Family Tremor - REM sleep behaviour disorder and essential tremor
    4. The Knockout - The history of the knockout mouse and the surprising results for the synuclein proteins
    5. Shapeshifter - The molecular structure and normal biological role of synuclein in neurons
    6. A New Kind of Pathogen - Prion diseases and amyloid fibrils
    7. Addicts - Neurotoxins that cause parkinsonism and the search for analogues in the environment
    8. Attack of the Oligomers - Alpha-synuclein amyloid oligomers and their pathogenic roles
    9. An Evolutionary Affair - The connection between Gaucher disease and Parkinson’s disease
    10. Monkey Brains - Evolution of the human brain and the vulnerability of the substantia nigra
    11. A Troublesome Subject - Exploring the possible connection between intelligence and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
    12. Appendix - Alpha-synuclein in the gut, Crohn’s disease, and the possible protective role of the synucleins in innate immune response
    13. Circuitry - The discovery of neural pathways involved in Parkinson’s disease and deep brain stimulation
    14. Seeking a Magic Bullet - The search for new Parkinson’s disease therapeutic agents
    15. Journey's End - A recap of the chapters, the final conclusions, and new directions to explore

Product details

  • No. of pages: 312
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2021
  • Published: January 31, 2021
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323857079
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323899680

About the Author

James Gruschus

James M. Gruschus is a molecular biophysicist with a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University. He is currently employed as a staff scientist in the Laboratory of Structural Biophysics, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, and resides in Washington, DC.

Affiliations and Expertise

Molecular Biophysicist, Staff Scientist, Laboratory of Structural Biophysics, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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  • Todd L. Mon Oct 11 2021

    Really fascinating

    Really fascinating

  • Alec Sun Jun 13 2021

    Great understanding of Parkinson's disease

    This book is an eye-opener for people with Parkinson’s disease and those who are diagnosed. Mr. Gruschus explains molecular and evolutionary causes of Parkinson's disease in a way that makes sense to the average reader. Parkinson’s disease falls into synucleinopathies and that Mr. Gruschus states that doctors cannot diagnose the disease, but just the signs of the synuclein. So just check out his book which is a great read for those who want to know more about Parkinson disease.