Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have found two proteins that prevented the progressive degeneration of nerve cells that cause Parkinson’s disease.
The proteins, named “Sonic Hedgehog” and “Gli-1,” were delivered via a genetically engineered virus into the brains of laboratory rats, and inhibited brain cell degeneration.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when the nerve cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine begin to malfunction and progressively die. Dopamine acts as a chemical messenger to send signals to another part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. But as more of these cells die, less and less dopamine is produced, causing Parkinson’s disease.
As many as 1 million Americans are affected by it, but there is no cure as yet. Rather, physicians can only manage the symptoms with drugs as the disease progresses.