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Manganese poisoning 'linked to Parkinson's'

Manganese poisoning 'linked to Parkinson's'
10th February 2009

Scientists have discovered a striking link between genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson's disease, specifically in how manganese can affect an individual, it has been revealed.

The research team, led by Professor Aaron D Gitler of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, found that excessive levels of manganese - which is known to produce symptoms akin to Parkinson's - can be prevented from having such effects.

Manganism is known to predominantly affect those in the fields of mining, steel manufacturing and welding due to the exposure to the metal which people experience, resulting in the central nervous system being attacked.

However, a Parkinson's gene known as PARK9 protects cells from being damaged from manganese poisoning, highlighting the genetic make-up of the disease and its key to unlocking a possible cure for both conditions.

Professor Gitler commented: "It's an interesting story that we've discovered in yeast and it will be important to see if it holds up in people. What's new is the connection between genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson's."

The University of Pennsylvania Health System was named one of the best hospitals in America in 2008 by US News.

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