A new study published in the journal Nature Communications, uncovers the role of alpha-synuclein in the non-familial form of Parkinson’s. Extra copies of the gene that code for the alpha-synuclein protein are present in some people with the heritable form of the disease – a build-up of the protein damages neurons in the substantia nigra – but this new work demonstrates how multiple transcripts of alpha-synuclein, in particular the longer form, lead to the dysfunction. Alpha-synuclein is intriguing because it may not only serve as a diagnostic biomarker of disease and common pathway through which Parkinson’s develops but it may also serve as a therapeutic target.