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Medical News & Perspectives
April 26, 2006

Scientists Probe Role of Genes, Environment in Parkinson Disease

JAMA. 2006;295(16):1883-1885. doi:10.1001/jama.295.16.1883

Washington, DC—Although scientists have found about a dozen genes associated with familial Parkinson disease and identified environmental factors linked to altered risk for developing the sporadic form of the disorder, its etiology remains elusive. But now, researchers are applying molecular and genomic tools to develop a better understanding of this devastating illness.

As reports from the first World Parkinson Congress held here in February indicate, such tools are indeed helping scientists make headway in deciphering the precise molecular events underlying the disorder and understanding how these might interact with environmental factors. One researcher presented the results of a large-scale whole genome survey of genes associated with Parkinson, identifying one novel gene variant linked to the disorder and pointing to two potential molecular mechanisms. Two other studies suggest how particular gene variants might interact with environmental factors to modulate risk.