If you or a loved one suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, a breakthrough discovery might aid in your future treatment. Scientists have found a way to potentially regulate targeted genes as a form of therapy.
National Institute of Health researchers found dozens of genes that may be used in the treatment process by utilizing RNA interference, or RNAi. The findings, though especially relevant to Parkinson’s, may also be used in conjunction with other diseases caused by damaged mitochondria.
In some cases of Parkinson’s, defective genes play a role in the development of the disease. These genes are biologically designed to help regulate the health of mitochondria, but when a defective gene comes into play, they oftentimes halt and disturb the regulation process. Rather than systematically tag the damaged mitochondria as waste to be disposed of, the defect prevents tagging altogether.
When the damaged mitochondria is not properly disposed of, it begins to build up, thus causing Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. The RNA interference research led to the discovery of at least 4 specific genes that have the power to turn on and off mitochondrial tagging.
“These genes work like quality control agents in a variety of cell types, including neurons,” said Dr. Youle, investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and a leader of the study. “The identification of these helper genes provides the research community with new information that may improve our understanding of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.”
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include tremor, which is a trembling of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or face, rigidity or stiffness, slowness of movement, impaired balance, and other mobility issues. It may affect one’s ability to talk, walk, stand, and perform other basic daily tasks.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s but medication is available for treatment. A form of surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) has also been approved as a viable form of treatment for severe cases in an attempt to reduce physical symptoms. The research involving gene silencing could potentially alter the current approach to treating Parkinson’s and help reduce the number of people suffering from effects of the disease.
New research published last month in the journal Cell includes results of a recent study examining the relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute found that the risk of developing the disease in individuals who possessed the defective gene increased in connection with pesticide exposure.
“If you’re susceptible to Parkinson’s disease, you will be more susceptible to getting it earlier if you are exposed to pesticides,” lead study author Dr. Stuart Lipton, professor and director of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute’s Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research, told Fox News.
Long Term Health
Parkinson’s, like Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, affects one’s ability to perform basic tasks on their own and often requires the presence of a long term caregiver. These types of diseases, though sometimes genetic, are often caused by environmental factors, as well.
Whether you have a genetic predisposition or not, making yourself aware of these different influencers can help you reduce the chances that you will develop these types of diseases and need long term care as you age. Read more about ways to remain healthy as you age and how to best plan for the chance that you may one day need long term care.