Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First link between two major Parkinson's genes identified

Date:
April 4, 2011
Source:
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Summary:
Scientists have found new insights into Parkinson's disease that are paving the way for new avenues for clinical trials. A new study provides 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.

As Parkinson's Awareness Month gets underway, a Canadian-led international study is providing important new insight into Parkinson's disease and paving the way for new avenues for clinical trials. The study, led by Dr. Michael Schlossmacher in Ottawa, provides 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.

It is published in the most recent edition of the journal Annals of Neurology.

"This study addresses a major riddle in Parkinson's disease," explains Dr. Schlossmacher, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Parkinson's disease at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, and is also an active neurologist at The Ottawa Hospital. "Thanks to pioneering research done by geneticists in the United States and Israel, we've known for six years now that 10-12 per cent of people with Parkinson's have a mutation in one copy of a gene called glucocerebrosidase, or GBA. However, until now we have not understood how these mutations contribute to the disease and how they fit with other pieces of the puzzle, such as the accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the brain."

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, Dr. 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.

"While the GBA mutations don't cause Parkinson's disease on their own, they do significantly increase the risk of developing the disease, probably by making people susceptible to the accumulation of alpha-synuclein," says Dr. Schlossmacher. "This could explain why people with GBA mutations frequently develop Parkinson's symptoms four to five years earlier than those without them."

"These findings are particularly exciting because if they are confirmed by other researchers, they could significantly accelerate the development of new treatments for Parkinson's," he adds. "Several companies have developed or are actively working on drugs that target GBA for another disease called Gaucher disease, and our research suggests that these drugs could potentially be useful in Parkinson's, and in a related disease called Lewy body dementia."

In addition to researchers in Ottawa, this study also involved researchers from Brigham & Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School (where the Schlossmacher team first began to explore the link), Genzyme Corporation, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, Christian-Albrechts University and Purdue University. It was funded by the Canada Research Chairs Program, The Ottawa Hospital Department of Medicine, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (USA), and Genzyme Corporation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Valerie Cullen, S. Pablo Sardi, Juliana Ng, Xu-Yu Hui, Ying Sun, Julianna J. Tomlinson, Piotr Kolodziej, Ilana Kahn, Paul Saftig, John Woulfe, Jean C. Rochet, Marcie A. Glicksman, Seng H. Cheng, Gregory L. Grabowski, Lamya S. Shihabuddin, Michael G. Schlossmacher. Acid β−glucosidase mutants linked to Gaucher disease, Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia alter α-synuclein processing. Annals of Neurology, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/ana.22400

Cite This Page:

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "First link between two major Parkinson's genes identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404121944.htm>.
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. (2011, April 4). First link between two major Parkinson's genes identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404121944.htm
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "First link between two major Parkinson's genes identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404121944.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
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