New gene that causes Parkinson’s disease identified

Washington: Researchers have identified yet another genetic cause of inherited Parkinson’s disease that they say may be related to the inability of brain cells to handle biological stress.

Neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida found how the gene, EIF4G1, can lead to death of brain cells, resulting in Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders.

This gene, unlike others, controls the levels of proteins that help a cell to cope with different forms of stress, such as those routinely found in aging cells, said co-lead investigator Justus C. Dachsel.

Co-author Owen Ross said that the insights might help in developing new therapies to treat or slow Parkinson’s disease.

The study began with the identification by French researchers of a large family in northern France with inherited Parkinson’s disease. Researchers discovered the EIF4G1 mutation in the French family and in other affected families in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and Italy.

This is the third gene that Mayo researchers have found which causes Parkinson’s disease, according to Ross.

He added that Mayo researchers have also identified a number of genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of developing the more common sporadic late-onset form of the disease.

“We believe that many of the genes implicated in familial Parkinson’s disease may be playing a role in the sporadic form of the disease, because as many as 20 percent of individuals with Parkinson’s report a first-degree relative with the disorder,” said Dr. Ross.

The latest finding adds another piece in the complex Parkinson’s puzzle.

The study is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.


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