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Parkinson's research explains dopamine cell death

Parkinson's research explains dopamine cell death
13th May 2011

Parkinson's research has offered clues as to why the condition selectively harms dopamine-producing nerve cells.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine revealed that a drug known to damage dopamine-producing nerve cells and mimic Parkinson's disease does so by damaging cellular energy generators called mitochondria.

This process impairs the ability of mitochondria to circulate the cell, meaning the axons wither and consequently, the main body of the cell dies, according to the research published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Karen O'Malley, of the university, said: "When axons die back, dopamine is no longer delivered to the neurons that need it. The cell body also has fewer connections to other cells, and it needs those connections to survive."

In other news, walking on a treadmill is the best exercise to improve Parkinson's mobility, new findings show, according to research presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Hawaii.

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