New research suggests that cholesterol could be important in preventing the development of diseases such as Parkinson's.
Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered two molecules that they believe help to create and maintain nerve cells in the brain, including those that produce dopamine - the type of cell that dies in patients with Parkinson's.
These two molecules are present in cholesterol, which has long been seen to have a negative effect on health, but could now hold the key to effective Parkinson's treatments.
Ernest Arenas, professor of stem cell neurobiology at the department of medical biochemistry and biophysics at Karolinska Institute, said: "What we have shown now is that cholesterol has several functions, and that it is involved in extremely important decisions for neurons."
Prof Arenas suggests that a cholesterol-derivative could one day be used to treat the disease by allowing dopamine-generating cells to be created in a laboratory and transplanted into a Parkinson's patient.
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