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Parkinson's genetic risk factor discovered

Parkinson's genetic risk factor discovered
18th January 2010

An international team of doctors and geneticists has found a new genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease, it has emerged.

Scientists at two universities - Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and Technische Universitat Munchen - investigated neurons in the brain to find which genes modify activity in Parkinson's disease, detecting increased activity of the pyridoxal kinase gene.

In an international cooperation project with Newcastle University, researchers discovered that the gene variant increases the risk for Parkinson's disease and may lead to a modified quantity or activity of the enzyme pyridoxal kinase in the brain.

Dr Matthias Elstner of the Neurological Clinic of LMU and Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, who served as the lead author of the study, said: "Our study reveals the interaction of genetic and environmental factors such as dietary habits in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease."

Also commenting on the study, head of the research Dr Holger Prokisch, who is studying mitochondrial diseases at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen and TU Munchen, added: "Although this variant is responsible for only a slight contribution to the overall risk for Parkinson's disease, our findings could aid in developing individualised therapies."

In the UK, around 120,000 people have Parkinson's disease.

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