Study provides new insight into Parkinson’s disease

April 5th, 2011 - 5:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 5 (ANI): A new study has provided the first link between the most common genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s and the hallmark accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein within the brains of people with Parkinson’s.

“This study addresses a major riddle in Parkinson’s disease,” explains Michael Schlossmacher, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Parkinson’s disease at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Alpha-synuclein has been likened to the “bad cholesterol” of Parkinson’s because it gradually accumulates in the brain as Parkinson’s progresses. Affected brain cells show signs of injury, and when they die, this leads to the tremors, stiffness and slowness that are typically associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Using a series of experimental laboratory models, Schlossmacher and his colleagues have now shown that the GBA mutations found in Parkinson’s patients prevent brain cells from efficiently breaking down and removing alpha-synuclein.

“This could explain why people with GBA mutations frequently develop Parkinson’s symptoms four to five years earlier than those without them,” said Schlossmacher.

The study is published in the most recent edition of the journal Annals of Neurology. (ANI)

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