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Research at HKBU demonstrates how traditional Chinese medicine can target an immune-mediated responses to alleviate Parkinson’s disease



A research team lead by Dr. Allen Cheung, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology, and Prof. Min Li, Professor at the School of Chinese Medicine, studied the use of the Traditional Chinese medicine herb Thunder God Vine-derived compound, Celastrol and its potential use in inhibiting an immune mechanism that contributes to the progression of Parkinson’s disease.


Alpha-synuclein is the name of the pathogenic protein underlying Parkinson’s disease. In patients, this protein accumulates and can activate the T cell immune response to damage the brain neurons. Their research found that Celastrol can effectively prevent processing of this protein in dendritic cells to impair the onset of T cells. In addition, Celastrol promoted the degradation of the alpha-synuclein protein in these cells. Therefore, the research provided further insight to the advantages of Traditional Chinese medicine in treating Parkinson’s disease.


The research was majorly funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Matching Scheme from the HKBU Research Council, and it was recently published in the Frontiers in Immunology journal (Ng et al., 2022;  doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.833515).