A protein known as PARIS has been found to facilitate the most common type of Parkinson's disease, the findings of which could lead to new targets for treatment.
Research, published in journal Cell, found that PARIS accumulates when the Parkin gene - which protects brain cells by tagging certain toxic elements for destruction - is mutated.
Too much PARIS lessens the production of a protective protein called PGC-1alpha, leading to less protection for brain cells and subsequently, faster progression of Parkinson's disease.
Professor Ted Dawson, of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, said: "It usually takes us 60 or more years to get the most common form of PD. A body can compensate for only so long and so much. By disabling the gene in the brain cells of adult mice, we accelerated that process and thwarted compensation."
Meanwhile, research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, claims that Parkinson's could be better understood following the discovery of a protein pathway key to the condition.