Scientists find 5 new Parkinson's genes

Feb 02, 2011 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

Scientists have identified five new genes linked to Parkinson's disease in a large genetic analysis of the illness, according to a new study. After reviewing nearly 8 million possible genetic mutations, researchers pinpointed five genes connected to Parkinson's disease. Previously, six other genes were identified, and experts say there is now increasing proof the degenerative disease is sparked by peoples' genes.

The discovery doesn't mean there are any new treatments just yet, but experts are optimistic they are getting closer.

"The major common genetic variants for Parkinson's have been found," said Nick Wood, a professor at the Institute of Neurology at University College London, one of the researchers who led the study. "We haven't put together all the pieces of the puzzle yet, but we're not that far off," he said. He predicted a diagnostic test might be ready within a few years.

Until recently, scientists hadn't been sure what caused Parkinson's disease, but assumed environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals or past head injuries were largely to blame.

Scientists analyzed genetic samples from more than 12,000 people with Parkinson's disease and more than 21,000 from the general population in Europe and the U.S. They found people with the highest number of mutations in the 11 genes linked to Parkinson's were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop the disease than people who had the least amount of mutations.

The average person has a 2.5 percent chance of developing Parkinson's disease in their lifetime, and the risk for people whose close relatives have the illness is about six percent.

The research was paid for by the Wellcome Trust, the National Institute of Aging and the U.S. Department of Defense. It was published online Wednesday in the medical journal Lancet.

Parkinson's is a degenerative brain disease that strikes when brain cells don't make enough of the chemical dopamine. That leads to symptoms including tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement. There are limited treatments and no cure for the disease. It mostly affects people over 50, though younger people, including actor Michael J. Fox, sometimes develop the disease.

Experts said Parkinson's disease was likely the result of a complex interaction between genetics and environmental risk factors.

In an accompanying commentary, scientists said identifying Parkinson's genes could help explain what triggers the disease and one day lead to new treatments.

"There is good reason for optimism that these advances will be translated into direct benefits for our patients," wrote Christine Klein and Andreas Ziegler of the University of Lubeck in Germany.

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

More information:
http://www.lancet.com

http://www.parkinsons.org.uk

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China has 40 pct of Parkinson's cases

May 04, 2006

Of the world's 4 million patients who suffer from Parkinson's disease, nearly 1.7 million are in China, a survey by Chinese experts shows.

Researchers discover link between Parkinson's and narcolepsy

May 11, 2007

Parkinson's disease is well-known for its progression of motor disorders: stiffness, slowness, tremors, difficulties walking and talking. Less well known is that Parkinson's shares other symptoms with narcolepsy, a sleep ...

Widely used cholesterol-lowering drug may prevent progression

Oct 29, 2009

Simvastatin, a commonly used, cholesterol-lowering drug, may prevent Parkinson's disease from progressing further. Neurological researchers at Rush University Medical Center conducted a study examining the use of the FDA-approved ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

21 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.