Greek researcher identifies new mechanism for Parkinson’s treatment
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Greek researcher identifies new mechanism for Parkinson’s treatment

Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway, led by a Greek researcher, have found that the secret to Parkinson’s disease may be in cells’ mitochondria.

There is no known cause or effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The findings could lead to future treatment for the neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 10 million people worldwide. The study was published in Nature Communications.

“We hope that our findings may be the key to a future treatment,” Dr. Charalampos Tzoulis, neurologist at UIB’s Department of Clinical Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital and lead author of the study, said in a press release. He also leads a research group called “Translational Science in Neurodegeneration and Aging” with a main focus on elucidating the etiology of Parkinson’s disease and developing novel therapies.

“There is generally very little knowledge about the mechanisms causing Parkinson’s disease. Now, we are a step closer to understanding these mechanisms and we may have a target to strike at for therapy.”

For the study, researchers compared brain cells from healthy people with those who had Parkinson’s disease and found that brain cells in healthy individuals were able to compensate for damage caused by aging by producing more DNA in their mitochondria. In the individuals with Parkinson’s disease, the protective mechanism was weakened causing a loss of the mitochondria’s healthy DNA.

“I believe we have discovered an essential biological mechanism that normally preserves and protects the brain from aging related damage,” Tzoulis said. “Intriguingly, this mechanism appears to fall in persons with Parkinson’s disease rendering their brain more vulnerable to the effects of aging.”