Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New model for studying Parkinson's: Swiss researchers develop new, working mammalian model to combat genetic causes of the disease

Date:
March 22, 2011
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Evidence is steadily mounting that genetic factors play an important role in many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD). Researchers in Switzerland now report a new mammalian model for studying a specific gene mutation commonly found in PD sufferers, opening the door to new drugs to fight the malady.

This is a cervical slice showing the healthy left-hand side of the brain and the damaged, Parkinson's disease side with lesions provoked by the LKKR2 gene mutation.
Credit: EPFL

Evidence is steadily mounting that genetic factors play an important role in many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD). In a study published February 2, 2011, online in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland report a new mammalian model for studying a specific gene mutation commonly found in PD sufferers, opening the door to new drugs to fight the malady.

"This is a great step forward toward a more comprehensive understanding of how the disease works, and how it can be diagnosed and treated," explains neuroscientist and EPFL President Patrick Aebischer, lead author of the study.

PD is a common neurodegenerative disease that greatly reduces quality of life and costs the United States around 23 billion dollars a year. Until now, researchers have encountered difficulty in reproducing PD pathology in animals because of an incomplete understanding of the disease.

Recently, a mutation of the gene coding for LRRK2, a large enzyme in the brain, has emerged as the most prevalent genetic cause of PD (genetics are implicated in about 10 percent of all PD cases). When the enzyme is mutated, it becomes hyperactive, causing the death of vulnerable neurons and leading to a reduction in levels of the brain neurotransmistter dopamine. This decrease in dopamine eventually triggers the symptoms characteristic of Parkinson's, such as tremors, instability, impaired movement, and later stage dementia.

Now, with funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Aebischer and his team in the Neurodegenerative Studies Laboratory at EPFL, have successfully introduced mutant LRRK2 enzyme into one hemisphere of a rat brain, resulting in the same PD manifestations that occur in humans in one side of the rodent's body. To do this, the researchers spent two years producing and optimizing a viral vector to deliver mutated, LRRK2 coding DNA into the rat brain. LRRK2 is a large and complicated enzyme and designing a vector capable of transporting its extremely long genetic code was no small feat.

The new animal model developed by EPFL is sure to benefit future Parkinson's research. The fact that LRRK2 is an enzyme -- a catalyzing protein involved in chemical reactions -- makes it drug accessible and therefore of specific interest to researchers looking for neuroprotective strategies, or pharmaceutical treatments that halt or slow disease progression by protecting vulnerable neurons. Armed with the LRRK2 model, new pharmaceuticals that inhibit the hyper-activity of the enzyme could one day prevent the destructive chain of events that leads to neurodegeneration and devastation in many with PD.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Dusonchet, O. Kochubey, K. Stafa, S. M. Young, R. Zufferey, D. J. Moore, B. L. Schneider, P. Aebischer. A Rat Model of Progressive Nigral Neurodegeneration Induced by the Parkinson's Disease-Associated G2019S Mutation in LRRK2. Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31 (3): 907 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5092-10.2011

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "New model for studying Parkinson's: Swiss researchers develop new, working mammalian model to combat genetic causes of the disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201172609.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2011, March 22). New model for studying Parkinson's: Swiss researchers develop new, working mammalian model to combat genetic causes of the disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201172609.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "New model for studying Parkinson's: Swiss researchers develop new, working mammalian model to combat genetic causes of the disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201172609.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins