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Parkinson's study reveals 'blood cells link'

Parkinson's study reveals 'blood cells link'
22nd July 2008

A gene and protein which cause Parkinson's disease are controlled by genetic mechanisms in blood cells, according to scientists.

They found that the activity of three genes, which control the major component of haemoglobin in the blood, precisely matched the activity of the alpha-synuclein gene, which is seen in elevated levels in Parkinson's patients.

According to the researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the University of Ottawa, their finding suggests that a common switch controls both and raises hope for therapies aimed at keeping alpha-synuclein levels within the normal range.

Dr Clemens Scherzer of Harvard said: "Simply lowering alpha-synuclein levels by 40 per cent may be enough to treat some forms of Parkinson's disease."

He added that the problem of alpha-synuclein build-up in Parkinson patients' brains can now be tackled "from the production site" as opposed to previous research which has focused on simply attempting to remove the excess levels.

Meanwhile, Dr Tom Smith writing in the Guardian recently said that camomile tea is being researched for use with brain diseases in which inflammation may be involved, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

He commented that a substance called luteolin in the tea has been found to reduce inflammatory reactions in the brain.

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