New research uncovers 'rogue cells' that may be involved in
21 June 2012
New research, published
in the journal Neuron yesterday, has identified 'rogue'
nerve cells in the brain that could hold the key to movement
problems in Parkinson's.
This innovative research takes us one step closer to uncovering where disrupted brain rhythms come from.
Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research
The research, which was funded by Parkinson's UK and the Medical
Research Council (MRC), has identified key cells which likely play
a vital role in controlling movement.
It could help explain how brain rhythms get disrupted
causing Parkinson's to develop.
Controlling movement - a complex task
Parkinson's develops when certain nerve cells die. Co-ordinating
movement is one of the most complex tasks that the brain
Millions of nerve cells in the body work together in an
intricate network to send precisely the right messages to our
muscles, telling them when to move.
In Parkinson's the rhythms of messages that control movement are
disrupted, which may cause the common symptoms of the condition, including tremor,
stiffness and slowness.
New clues to what goes wrong in Parkinson's
The research team, headed by Dr Peter Magill at the MRC
Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit in Oxford, investigated nerve
cells in the external globus pallidus (or GPe). This is an area of
the brain that controls movement and is known to go awry in
The researchers discovered 2 different types of cell in the GPe,
and showed how these cells stop working properly in
Dr Peter Magill (pictured right), MRC
Senior Scientist and Programme Leader, from the MRC Anatomical
Neuropharmacology Unit, explains:
"Our results suggest that changes in the activity of cells in
this specific part of the brain may lie at the heart of the
movement problems that people with Parkinson's experience.
"This research opens up a whole new avenue for future treatments
to specifically target these rogue cells."
A step towards a cure
Dr Kieran Breen, our director of research and innovation
(pictured left), adds:
innovative research takes us one step closer to uncovering where
disrupted brain rhythms come from.
"The results of this study suggest that these 2 rogue cells
could trigger a chain reaction that could cause a person to develop
"Understanding how and why Parkinson's develops is critical.
"Only when we understand the root cause of the condition, can we
start to develop new treatments, diagnostic tests and ultimately a