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SLU research implicates natural toxin as triggering Parkinson's disease
Date:2/10/2011

om a cellular perspective, doctors know some pieces of the puzzle. They know that Parkinson patients have a loss of dopamine neurons in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, leading to severe dopamine loss in another part of the brain called the striatum, and the aggregation of a protein called alpha-synuclein.

Alpha-synuclein is found throughout the brain. In some people, the protein clumps together. Researchers found that it is DOPAL that causes alpha-synuclein protein in the brain to aggregate. This induces further increases of DOPAL leading to the death of the dopamine-producing cells, which in turn causes Parkinson's symptoms to develop.

Currently, the main approach to Parkinson's disease is to treat symptoms by replacing dopamine that's lost when the cells die. This approach however does not prevent the loss of dopamine neurons causing Parkinson's disease.

This new research opens up promising new research avenues to prevent dopamine neuron loss and the progression of Parkinson's disease.


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Contact: Carrie Bebermeyer
bebermcl@slu.edu
314-977-8015
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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