US scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in the search for a potential cure for Parkinson's disease.
Previous research has identified the gene that controls leucine-rich repeat kinase-2 (LRRK2) as being integral to the development of the condition. However, it was not clear why a flawed version of this gene significantly increased the risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson's.
However, a team from the Einstein College of Medicine in New York has published a study detailing how a faulty gene can lead to excessive amounts of LRRK2 in the brain. While this is not harmful in itself, it disrupts the regular processes that remove toxic substances from cells.
Professor Ana Maria Cuervo, who led the study, explained that a protein called alpha-synuclein can accumulate to a levels that causes damage to nerve cells and leads to Parkinson's when LRRK2 prevents a natural clear up.
"We are now looking at ways to enhance the activity of this recycling system to see if we can prevent or delay neuronal death and disease," she added.
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