-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic variation that
reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease by nearly 20 percent in
many populations has been found by an international team of
They also identified other variants of the same gene -- LRRK2 --
that double the risk of Parkinson's in whites and Asians.
The Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease consortium's
findings are from a genetic analysis of samples from more than
8,600 Parkinson's patients and almost 7,000 controls across 15
countries on five continents.
The investigation was led by neuroscientists at the Mayo Clinic
in Florida, and the findings appear in the Aug. 31 online issue of
The Lancet Neurology.
"The idea that Parkinson's disease occurs mostly in a random sporadic fashion is changing," lead investigator Owen Ross said in a Mayo news release. "Our study, one of the largest to date in the study of the genetics of Parkinson's disease, shows that a single gene, LRRK2, harbors both rare and common variants that in turn alter the susceptibility to Parkinson's disease in diverse populations."
These and future genetic findings could eventually help identify
people at risk for Parkinson's and possibly lead to new treatments,
One expert who was not involved in the study agreed that the
findings hold promise.
"The finding that some variants in the LRRK2 gene can reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease is very interesting," said Dr. Andrew Feigin, associate professor of neurology and molecular medicine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. "[It] suggests that in addition to there likely being numerous genetic mutations that increase the risk of apparently sporadic disorders, there are also likely to be many genetic variations that reduce risk," he added.
"Though this observation may not lead directly to better treatments for Parkinson's disease, understanding how different genetic mutations in the same gene lead to increased or decreased risk for Parkinson's disease may provide clues to developing novel therapies," Feigin said.
Experts estimate that up to 2 percent of people over the age of
65 develop Parkinson's disease.
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