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Parkinson's Disease: Researchers Discover Genetic Switch

By Irene Guerrero , Feb 18, 2017 03:13 AM EST
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Parkinson’s disease is a disease of the nervous system, affecting middle-aged and elderly people. Researchers discovered that a gene called ATF4 could possibly act as a switch of genes that could control mitochondrial metabolism for neuron health. Dr Miguel Martins, lead researcher explained that when the expression of ATF4 is reduced in flies, expression of these mitochondrial genes drops. This drop results in dramatic locomotor defects, decreased lifespan, and dysfunctional mitochondria in the brain.

In addition to this when these mitochondrial genes were over exposed, mitochondrial function was restored, and neuron loss was avoided. Researchers have singled out new therapeutic targets that could prevent neuron loss. By determining the gene networks that organize this process.

Parkinson’s disease has several forms, some of which are called PINK1 and PARKIN. These are assisting in mitochondrial quality control. Fruit flies with alterations in these genes accrue abnormal mitochondria and exhibit Parkinson's-like changes, including loss of neurons.

The researchers used mutant flies with PINK1 and PARKIN to investigate other critical Parkinson's genes. They also used bioinformatics approach discovering that the ATF4 gene is an important aspect. According to the Meical News Today, Dr. Martin said that contemplating on these genes and their role in the human neurons could surpass creations of possible delays or prevention of the neuronal loss seen in Parkinson's disease.

The research results of the University of Leicester team, discovered various genes that take care of neurons in Parkinson's disease. This has opened potential creation of effective treatment alternative. According to the Science Daily, PINK1 and PARKIN, affect how mitochondria break down amino acids to generate nucleotides. They are in charge of the metabolism of these molecules generates the energy that cells need to live. The researchers believe that they have found several new ways that could potentially cure Parkinson’s disease.

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