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Health Agencies Update
December 24/31, 2003

Parkinson Disease Gene Link

JAMA. 2003;290(24):3186. doi:10.1001/jama.290.24.3186-a

Extra copies of the normal alpha synuclein (SNCA) gene cause an inherited form of Parkinson disease, according to a new report in the October 31 issue of Science. Researchers from the National Institute of Health and several US medical centers studied a large family in which many relatives developed the disease, and linked the disease to the presence of two extra copies of SNCA.

Mutations in the SNCA gene had been implicated in Parkinson disease in other families, but the new data suggest that the disorder can also result when extra copies of the normal version of the gene produce too much synuclein protein. The excess protein may form aggregates that interfere with dopamine-releasing neurons in the brain.

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