Over the weekend, a group of scientists led by researchers from the National Institutes of Health published a paper describing how they identified 28 genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, including six that had not been named before.
The NIH worked with many organizations — including The Michael J. Fox Foundation and 23andMe — to gather genomic data from nearly 14,000 people with Parkinson’s and more than 95,000 control volunteers. The genome is genetic material: both genes and non-coding DNA. Researchers analyzed nearly 8 million places on the genome where people with Parkinson’s may have a change from controls and found 28.
Many of them had been previously identified, but replicating their association is part of the research process and confirms that work already on those targets is on the right track. The six new variants, or risk factors, provide new clues for scientists looking for places where they may stop or slow Parkinson’s progression.
MJFF Contributing Editor Dave Iverson spoke to first author on the paper, Mike Nalls, PhD, of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), for the latest in our Parkinson’s podcast series.
“We’re looking at a handful of new regions and new biological information that we can use to inform our knowledge of disease pathways and genetic risk and that, eventually, and this is our big hope, will really inform some type of treatment or path to a treatment,” Dr. Nalls said.
“The progress we’ve made as a field in understanding the genetics of Parkinson’s disease has been tremendous, and this latest work adds significantly to this progress,” said Andy Singleton, PhD, lead author on the paper and chief of the NIA Laboratory of Neurogenetics. “This work also highlights the power of collaborative science, representing a true group effort at many levels, only possible because of the efforts of funding agencies, private companies, scientists, physicians, patients and caregivers. It is our belief that the fundamental insights provided by this type of work will be the foundation of our efforts to find a cure."
Read more on this work from the NIH.
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