LRRK2 gene may play a central role in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative disorders
A team of researchers at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and colleagues in Canada and Germany have discovered a gene and six mutations of it that cause symptoms associated with Parkinsons disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Their discovery will be reported in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal, Neuron. The team found a mutation of the gene, named LRRK2, in members of six families with many individuals affected by Parkinsons disease. Surprisingly, brain autopsy on deceased, affected family members who participated in this research indicate mutations in the LRRK2 gene play a central role in developing pathology characteristic of Parkinsons disease and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimers disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrigs disease).
For 14 years Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Zbigniew Wszolek has studied the two largest families in which a LRRK2 mutation was found. "The discovery of this gene will have major implications for the understanding of mechanisms leading to the development of these neurodegenerative diseases," he says. "We also hope that continued study of this gene will lead to curative treatments for Parkinsons disease and other similar conditions." Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Ryan Uitti has treated members of one of the six families with the gene mutation. "This finding is potentially a giant leap forward," he says. "Many people with Parkinsons disease have dementia as well, and this may help to explain how that occurs."
Erik Kaldor | EurekAlert!
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