Precious brain tissue uncovers new insights about the causes of Parkinson’s

Tissue from the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank has provided vital clues to why brain cells are lost in Parkinson's

Researchers at the Van Andel Institute in the USA have published results in the Journal of Nature Neuroscience that have identified a protein that may be involved in the loss of brain cells in Parkinson’s. 

Understanding the causes of Parkinson’s is crucial to accelerating the search for better treatments and a cure. This knowledge could pave the way for treatments that could slow or stop the condition. 

Using brain tissue in research 

In this new study, the team identified a previously unknown difference in the brain tissue from those with and without Parkinson’s. They discovered that a protein, called TET2, that manages and controls how cells behave  was overactive in the Parkinson’s samples.

Alongside this, the researchers showed, in mice, that reducing TET2 activity had a protective effect and prevented the loss of brain cells.

Dr Katherine Fletcher, Research Communications Officer at Parkinson’s UK, said: 

“This is a pioneering study that has uncovered knowledge that could pave the way for new treatments to protect against the loss of brain cells in Parkinson’s.”  

“The study relied on precious tissue from the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank and is an example of the progress that this vital resource powers.”

“People with and without Parkinson's can sign up and pledge to donate their brain. Donation is not an easy decision and we are extremely grateful to the donors and their families who have chosen to do this.”

What is the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank? 

The human brain is very difficult for scientists to study. Unlike some other organs, we cannot simply take samples to study under the microscope, and brain scanning techniques (although getting better all the time) are limited. Therefore a vital way to better understand Parkinson’s is through the use of brain tissue that has been collected through generous brain donations. 

Based at Imperial College London, the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank collects this precious tissue to supply to Parkisnon’s researchers all over the world to help progress Patrkinson’s research.

Pledge your brain for Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Every hour, two more people are diagnosed. But together, we can find a cure – thanks to the power of our brains.