Parkinson’s disease :: How a gene can keep brain cells alive

Researchers say they have discovered how a gene linked to Parkinson’s disease can keep brain cells alive.

Scientists at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center’s School of Medicine see the results as suggesting the possibility for new drugs that might regulate the gene and protect Parkinson’s patients from further cell damage.

The findings published in Friday’s issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“Our research shows how a genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease works,” says Dr. Curt Freed of the CU School of Medicine, a co-author of the study. “We show how the normal function of the gene keeps dopamine cells from dying. If the gene is abnormal, these protective mechanisms cannot be brought into play.”

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that occurs when dopamine cells in the brain die or are damaged, making it increasingly difficult to relay movement messages from the brain to the body.

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