Scientists have pin-pointed more than two dozen genetic risk factors involved in Parkinson’s disease based on data from over 18,000 patients. Six of these had not been reported previously. Published in Nature Genetics the study, was led by scientists working in NIH laboratories.
Andrew Singleton, Ph.D., a scientist at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging (NIA) and senior author of the study said that uncovering the genetic underpinnings of Parkinson’s is important for us to understand the multiple mechanisms involved in this complex disease may one day lead to effective therapies.”
Existing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provided Dr. Singleton and his team the data they needed to find common variants, or subtle differences, in the genetic codes of large groups of individuals. The study unravelled potential genetic risk variants, which increase the chances of an individual developing Parkinson’s disease. Apparently, the more variants a person has the greater his risk of developing the disorder.
To obtain the data, the researchers collaborated with multiple public and private organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, 23andMe and many international investigators.
Using a state-of-the-art gene chip called NeuroX the researchers were able to compare the genetic regions to sequences and confirm that 24 variants represent genetic risk factors for Parkinson’s disease. These include six new variants. The NeuroX gene chip contains the codes of approximately 24,000 common genetic variants thought to be associated with a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders.