Researchers believe they may have found a new approach to tackling Parkinson's disease (PD).
A study that is published in Nature Genetics examined DNA from more than 100,000 people with and without the degenerative condition in the hope of learning more about how to tackle PD.
It found there were six more sections of DNA - as well as the 22 that scientists already knew about - that could heighten an individual's risk of developing the disease.
Such a revelation could hopefully enable experts to discover new avenues of treatment that help to combat the death of brain cells, which could prevent and cure PD.
Senior author of the study Dr Andrew Singleton - who is a scientist at the National Institute for Health - said: "Unravelling the genetic underpinnings of PD is vital to understanding the multiple mechanisms involved in this complex disease, and hopefully, may one day lead to effective therapies."
These findings were part-funded by the charity Parkinson's UK and research communications manager Claire Bale is quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying the study was an "important step" in the bid to halt the devastating effects of the neurodegenerative disorder.
"We still don't have a complete picture of the genetic fingerprints that are putting people at higher risk of developing the condition. We're excited to see that this study has unearthed more genetic clues," she said.
Ms Bale added that "completely new ways" to combat PD could be developed as a result of these findings, which would put a stop to the death of brain cells.
PD affects one in 500 individuals in the UK, which amounts to approximately 127,000 people. There are a vast array of symptoms that progress at different rates, but can include stiffness, tremors and mobility problems.
Currently, there is no cure for the degenerative disorder, but symptoms can be managed with drugs and treatments.
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