Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory are identifying the basic mechanisms behind Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological disease affecting millions of people worldwide. The research could some day lead to treatments for a disabling condition for which medicine now has nothing to offer other than symptomatic relief.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that causes tremors, stiffness, slowed movement and impaired balance and coordination. The disease affects nearly 1 million people in the United States alone and is age-related: the average age of onset is 60 and the incidence rises sharply with age.
Assistant professor Aric Rogers, Ph.D., is investigating ways of enhancing basic mechanisms to keep cells healthy and resistant to conditions that can lead to Parkinson’s. By lowering the activity of a specific gene, his team was able to reduce the toxicity of malformed proteins associated with Parkinson’s and increase cell health.