Parkinson’s disease affect an estimated more than 10 million people worldwide. A new study done in Norway has demonstrated new mechanisms behind Parkinson’s disease. These could be key mechanisms that might be utilized for effective future treatment.
Currently, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown and there are no effective treatments. A study done at the the University of Bergen (UiB), suggests that the secret of the disease may be locked up in the mitochondria, which are regarded as the powerhouses of a cell.
Dr Charalampos Tzoulis.the neurologist who directed the study at Haukeland University Hospital and UiB’s Department of Clinical Medicine hopes that these findings might be the key to a future treatment. As there is currently very little knowledge about the mechanisms causing Parkinson’s disease, Tzoulis feels that they are a step closer to understanding these mechanisms. If this proves to be correct, they may have a target to strike at for therapy.
Mitochondria have their own DNA, which tell cells how to build their power generators. In people who get Parkinson’s disease, it appears as if the problem is that the microscopic powerhouses found in our brain cells are unable to adjust to the changes caused by aging. Tzoulis notes that it is well known that the DNA of mitochondria is damaged during aging. This causes failure in the power generators, resulting in disease and lack of energy.
Tzoulis’ team compared brain cells from individuals with Parkinson’s disease to those of healthy aged persons during the study. They discovered that the brain cells of healthy older people are able to compensate for the damage induced by age by producing more DNA in their mitochondria. This defensive mechanism is not as strong in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, which leads to the mitochondria’s healthy DNA population decreasing.
Tzoulis believes they have discovered a vital biological mechanism that normally protects and preserves the brain from damage related to aging. Tzoulis also finds it intriguing that this mechanism apparently fails in people with Parkinson’s disease. This renders the brain more susceptible to the effects of aging.
Parkinson’s disease facts:
- Trembling or stiffness and slow movements in arms or legs are often the first symptoms.
- The disease is usually diagnosed from the age of 55 and its prevalence increase with age.
- Parkinson’s is a chronic disease that attacks the nervous system.
- Around 100 per 100,000 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease.