Page URL:

Gene clue to early onset Parkinson's disease

24 September 2007
Appeared in BioNews 426

A study has shown that a gene mutation may be responsible for people developing Parkinson's disease before the age of 50. The results of the study, which was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health and the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, were published last week in the journal Neurology.

The researchers looked at the genes of 278 people with Parkinson's disease and 179 people without the disease. They found that while only five per cent of the people without the disease had a mutation in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene, this increased to 14 per cent amongst those with the disease. In those who developed Parkinson's disease before the age of 50, this further increased to 22 per cent. Only 10 per cent of those diagnosed after the age of 50 carried the GBA gene mutation.

Mutations in the GBA gene also cause Gaucher's disease, which is a rare disorder that causes a build-up of a fatty substance called glucocerebroside, eventually preventing organs such as the spleen and brain from working properly. Lead researcher and study author Dr Lorraine N Clark, from Columbia University in New York, said that the results 'confirm that GBA mutations are risk factors for Parkinson's disease and may lead to getting the disease at a younger age', adding: 'We found those people with GBA mutations developed Parkinson's disease nearly two years earlier than people without the gene abnormality'. Even though Parkinson's and Gaucher's are quite different incurable diseases, their causes may have genetic similarities, Clark said.

The study also analysed whether having Jewish ancestry affected the likelihood of getting Parkinson's disease at an earlier age. Some earlier studies have found that people with Eastern and Central European Jewish ancestry are more likely to have GBA gene mutations. The results showed that the gene mutation was present in 17 per cent of the study participants with Jewish ancestry, compared to only eight per cent of those without.

Gene abnormality linked to early-onset Parkinson's
Reuters |  17 September 2007
Gene Abnormality Tied To Getting Parkinson's Disease At A Younger Age
ScienceDaily |  18 September 2007
Gene May Boost Parkinson's Before Age 50
WebMD |  18 September 2007
23 November 2009 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
New investigations into the genetics of Parkinson's disease have identified five new genes associated with the sporadic form of the disease. The worldwide collaborative effort, published in Nature Genetics last week, gives new insight into the progression of the devastating disease that affects so many people....
26 January 2006 - by BioNews 
US researchers have found that many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD) in certain ethnic groups could be triggered by a single faulty gene. In two separate studies, the scientists discovered that some patients with an Ashkenazi Jewish or Arabic background have a mutated version of the LRRK2 gene. The findings...
19 April 2004 - by BioNews 
The identification of a gene involved in a rare hereditary form of Parkinson's disease could lead to new treatments for this incurable brain disorder, UK scientists say. Families affected by a severe, inherited form of the illness have an altered version of a gene called PINK1 (PTEN-induced kinase 1), researchers...
22 September 2003 - by BioNews 
Scientists at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York have successfully used 'therapeutic cloning' to treat mice with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The research, which is published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, showed that cells from cloned mouse embryos could alleviate the symptoms of the brain disorder. Team...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.