A Better View of Parkinson's Disease

EurekAlert! notes a synthesis of previous Parkinson's disease research into a complete understanding of what is taking place: "In a study that reveals the clearest picture to date of neuron death in Parkinson's disease, researchers [have] found that a trio of culprits acting in concert is responsible for killing the brain cells ... symptoms of Parkinson's - including uncontrollable tremors and difficulty in moving arms and legs - are blamed on the loss of neurons from the substantia nigra region of the brain. Researchers had previously suspected dopamine, alpha-synuclein and calcium channels were involved in killing the neurons, but could not pin the deaths on any single molecule. The new paper, along with previous studies, [shows] that it is the combination of all three factors that kills the neurons. The studies found that neurons die because calcium channels lead to an increase of dopamine inside the cell; excess dopamine then reacts with alpha-synuclein to form inactive complexes; and then the complexes gum up the cell's ability to dispose of toxic waste that builds up in the cell over time. The waste eventually kills the cell. ... It may be possible to save neurons and stop Parkinson's disease by interfering with just one of the three factors."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/cumc-pnd042309.php

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