More Clues to Genetic Underpinnings of Parkinson's

Study finds culprit in rare familial form of disease

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THURSDAY, Oct. 30, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Research into a rare familial form of early-onset Parkinson's disease reveals that too much of a normal form of the alpha-synuclein gene may cause Parkinson's.

The study by U.S. National Institutes of Health researchers and their colleagues found abnormal multiplication of the gene can cause Parkinson's disease. The study offers important new information about the process behind the development of the disease.

It also suggests to scientists another way of looking at the effects of abnormal protein deposition in a number of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's.

The study appears in the Oct. 31 issue of Science.

Researchers analyzed blood samples from an American family in which many members developed Parkinson's disease or related neurological diseases. The family was followed by the researchers for many years.

"We hope that this type of basic research will yield new understandings that will ultimately allow us to go beyond just treating the symptoms of Parkinson's disease to one day halting the disease's progression," researcher Matthew Farrer of the Mayo Clinic says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, Oct. 30, 2003

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