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U.S. team identifies possible Parkinson's trigger

By Mark L Harvey     Jan 2, 2008 in Health
Researchers have "stumbled upon" the trigger for Parkinson's disease, an incurable condition at the moment. A glitch in how cells clear damaged proteins could be the spark that causes Parkinson's.
A glitch in the way cells clear damaged proteins could be the trigger for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, researchers said in a finding that could lead to new treatments for the incurable condition.
Whereas this is only a possible "hit", it does raise the prospect of actually being on the right trail of a potential cure for this disease.
The U.S. team focused on a process called autophagy in which cells digest and recycle damaged molecules, including proteins, that develop as cells grow older. This system essentially renews cells to keep them functioning properly.
This mechanism is also important for nerve cells in the brain where defective proteins can kill cells and cause the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's, such as tremors, said Ana Maria Cuervo, a cell biologist who led the study.
The research team stated that this could give way to developing drugs to treat the symptoms but not the disease itself at this point. At best speculation, this does shine a glimmer of hope for those that have Parkinson's.
Cuervo said a drug to fix the breakdown in Parkinson's patients was years away because it would take researchers time to understand fully how the process worked.
This is not something that is going to lead to a treatment tomorrow. The hope is within five years we can get companies to find a drug able to activate this system.
More about Parkinson disease, Medical research, Breakthrough
 
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