A paper released this week online, in the American Journal of Human Genetics, describes the discovery of a new gene connected to Parkinsonís disease. The gene, GIGYF2, has been implicated in families with a history of the disease. Mutations in the gene appear to be directly linked to development of symptoms and it is located in a chromosomal region, PARK11, previously identified as being significant to Parkinsonís.
Scientists at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, with the help of collaborators in Italy and France, tested 249 Parkinsonís sufferers with immediate relatives having the disease, and compared their DNA to that of 200 healthy individuals. Using gene sequencing and other molecular techniques for studying genes, they detected 7 different mutations in 5% of sufferers, many of which could be traced to the family members. Their results will appear in print in AJHG on April 11.
There is currently no known cause or cure for Parkinson's and only a handful of genes linked to it. In addition, less that ľ of cases of the disease are inherited. However, Dr. Robert Smith, a senior author of the report, is hopeful that this discovery will have a significant impact in the development of treatments or a cure. The researchers also collected data to add to the growing body of evidence that links diabetes and/or levels of insulin and the hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF), to neurodegenerative diseases. The full article can currently be viewed online.
Brown University news release March 20, 2008.