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Scientists close in on genes responsible for Parkinson's Disease


External Sites:
-Parkinson's Disease Society
-Neuropathology
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

For immediate release
Monday 19 December 2005

Scientists have identified 570 genes that act abnormally during the development of Parkinsons Disease, a finding which could help doctors predict the likelihood of it developing, and provide targets for new treatments.

The research published in Neurogenetics, by the team from Imperial College London and the University of Liege, Belgium, uses microarrays to analyse brains from Parkinsons patients. Microarrays are laboratory chips able to pick out which genes are active when different processes are occurring in the brain. When they analysed brains from people with Parkinsons, they found that out of all 25,000 human genes, regulation of 570 was highly abnormal in Parkinsons brains compared with non-diseased brains. This is the first study on Parkinson's disease where all human genes were studied.

Brain scans

The researchers analysed 23 brains from recently deceased patients, 15 affected by Parkinsons and 8 control brains. The majority of brains were provided by the UK Parkinsons Disease Society Tissue Bank at Imperial College London.

Dr Linda Moran Opens in new window from Imperial College London and one of the authors of the paper, said: "This research shows there are a considerable number of genes associated with the development of Parkinson's, potentially providing new clues for how to treat this disease. Now that we can identify these genes it may be possible to develop new therapies to help the increasing numbers of Parkinsons patients."

The team, led by Professor Manuel Graeber Opens in new window , analysed two parts of the brain which are affected by neurodegeneration in Parkinsons; the substantia nigra in the mid-brain, and the cerebral cortex. They were able to eliminate around 15,000 genes from any role in Parkinsons, as they were not found to be active in the substantia nigra, the part of the brain most affected by Parkinson's.

Dawn Duke, MS, from Imperial College London, and one of the authors of the paper said: "In addition to identifying those genes linked with the development of Parkinsons, this research has also shown that many of these genes were especially active in Parkinsons brains. By limiting the activity of these genes, we may be able to control or even stop the development of Parkinsons."

The study was funded by the UK Parkinson's Disease Society.

For further information please contact:

Tony Stephenson
Press Officer
Communications Division
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6712
Mobile: +44 (0)7753 739766
E-mail: at.stephenson@imperial.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

1. Whole genome expression profiling of the medial and lateral substantia nigra in Parkinsons disease, Neuropathology.

2. Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

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