Johns Hopkins scientists have identified a biological trigger for Parkinson's disease. The findings, published in the journal Cell
, could lead to new early diagnostic tools and treatments that could shut down the disease before symptoms progress in patients, Fox News
Using both human cells and fruit flies, the researchers identified a protein, s15, that triggers a common form of the disease. The protein is enabled by an enzyme — leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) — the then causes neurodegeneration.
Previous research has shown that mutations in LRRK2 are linked with the progression of Parkinson’s disease. But the specific proteins LRRK2 was acting on were unknown — until now.
"How mutations in [LRRK2] cause Parkinson's disease aren't well known, and what this study does is provides a pretty convincing set of data on how mutations in LRRK2 cause Parkinson's disease," researcher Ted Dawson, M.D. professor of neurology and director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, told FoxNews.com.
The findings suggest that blocking the action of s15 and LRRK2 could prevent the loss of dopamine neurons and the onset of Parkinson's disease, which affects nearly one million people in the U.S., according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation..