New research has identified a biological ‘trigger’ for Parkinson’s disease. The findings, published in the journal Cell, may lead the way to early diagnostic tools and treatments that could shut down the disease before symptoms progress in patients.
Using both human neurons and fruit flies, researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified a protein, s15, that triggers a common form of Parkinson’s disease. The protein is enabled by an enzyme – leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) – which then causes neurodegeneration.
Previous research has shown that mutations in LRRK2 are linked with neurodegeneration, and therefore, the progression of Parkinson’s disease. LRRK2 had been previously identified to be a protein kinase, which means it is a type of enzyme that adds phosphates on to other proteins and either turns proteins on or off or changes the protein’s activity. However, the proteins LRRK2 was acting on were unknown—until now.
“How mutations in [LRRK2] cause Parkinson’s disease aren’t well known, and what this study does is provides a pretty convincing set of data on how mutations in LRRK2 cause Parkinson’s disease,” study author Dr. Ted Dawson, professor of neurology and director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, told FoxNews.com.
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