Nicotine could potentially protect the brain against Parkinson's disease, new research has shown.
A study published in the FASEB Journal found that nicotine was able to rescue dopamine neurons from normal mice, but not those lacking a nicotine receptor.
These findings could lead to the development of novel therapies for Parkinson's patients, focusing on targeting the nicotine receptors.
Authors believe this could potentially treat patients at an early stage of the disease where the condition has not yet been diagnosed due to motor criteria.
However, Gerald Weissmann, editor of the journal, warned: "Even if smoking protects you from Parkinson's, you might not live long enough to develop the disease because smoking greatly increases the risk for deadly cancers and cardiovascular diseases. But now, we should be able find non-toxic ways to hit the same target."
In other news, Barcelona University Hospital researchers have found that patients with an REM sleep behaviour disorder have an increased risk of going on to develop Parkinson's disease.
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