Researchers identify key player in genetic Parkinson’s

A team of researchers at the University of York have identified a protein that plays an important role in the loss of brain cells in a genetic type of Parkinson’s. The research, funded by Parkinson’s UK, has been published in G3: Genes, Genomics and Genetics.

A change in a gene called LRRK2 is probably the most common genetic variant linked to Parkinson’s. In the UK, around one in 100 people with Parkinson’s carry this version of the gene. Now researchers have identified a protein that links LRRK2 to the loss of brain cells in the condition.

Dr Beckie Port, Research Manager at Parkinson’s UK, said: “While only a small minority of Parkinson’s cases are caused by inherited genes, this study shines a light on a new avenue of research that, ultimately, could slow or stop Parkinson’s - something no current treatment can do.

“Changes in the LRRK2 gene increase risk of Parkinson’s, but how they lead to the loss of brain cells has been a mystery, until now. Our researchers have identified that the protein Rab10 may be the reason why some cells die while others are less affected.                                                            

“In many ways, Parkinson’s is like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. By funding studies that help us understand the changes in the brains of people with Parkinson’s, we are adding vital pieces to fill in the gaps. This is the first step towards figuring out a way to stop it.”

ENDS

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For more information and interview requests please contact Molly Horsburgh in the Parkinson’s UK media team: [email protected], [email protected] or 0207 963 9351.