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New Genetic Clues to Parkinson’s Disease

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Updated: 1/30/2012 4:09 pm

Feb. 1, 2011 -- A new set of genetic variants has been implicated in the search for genetic risk factors that could lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers say six genetic factors that apparently affect the neurological disease have been previously identified. But in a new study, the researchers say they have now identified five more of the variants.

The research, a collaboration of investigators in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Iceland, is published online in the Feb. 2 issue of The Lancet.

Researchers say the study is the product of the largest genetic analysis of Parkinson’s disease ever done and that about 7.7 million possible variants were examined.

Genetic Roots of Parkinson’s

The researchers found that 20% of patients with the highest number of risk variants were 2.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than the 20% of patients with the fewest genetic risk factors. The study results could point to new genes that need to be studied as scientists focus on genetic roots of Parkinson’s. The new findings have not been validated for clinical use.

The researchers say their study could be a starting point into further investigations of the causes of Parkinson’s.

“This study provides evidence that common genetic variation plays an important part in the cause of Parkinson’s disease,” the researchers write. “We have confirmed a strong genetic component to Parkinson’s disease which, until recently, was thought to be completely caused by environmental factors.”

The study concludes that the findings “provide an insight into the genetics of Parkinson’s disease” and its molecular cause and “could provide future targets for therapies.”

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