Canadian researchers have uncovered a new genetic target for drug treatments for Parkinson's Disease.
Scientists at the Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montreal (IRCM) used a technique known as gene expression profiling to investigate dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain, which transmit signals to other nerve cells using dopamine. These neurons are known to degenerate in Parkinson's disease.
They discovered that a defective Rgs6 gene causes the death of these cells. Removing it relieves a brake against excessive dopaminergic signalling, leading to excess free dopamine accumulation, which causes cellular stress and the death of neurons.
"Our work indicates that Rgs6 could be a new target for the development of drugs against Parkinson’s disease," said Dr Jacques Drouin, director of the molecular genetics laboratory at the IRCM.
The study was conducted in collaboration with Dr Rory Fisher from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and has been published online by the scientific journal PLoS Genetics.
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