Friday, 13 September 2013 12:23

Parkinson's disease: aetiology with genome analysis and stem cells Featured

The research project, called COURAGE PD, supported by eight EU Member States which are managed by Tübingen researchers and funded with about euro 4,7 million wants to clarify which genes and what kind of environmental factors are responsible for the development of palsy (Parkinson's). In order to do this genome - wide analysisare combined, epidemiological data and results from stem cells obtained from patients own cells are combined.

The project is part of the largest global research initiative "Joint Programming for Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND) ". Aim is an European-wide bundling and strengthening of research on age-related, neurodegenerative diseases.

In recent years several genetic defects were found that can cause a Parkinson's disease. "However, every single mutation is able to explain only a very small number of disorders.

"For most cases of hereditary Parkinson's, the genetic causes are unknown", Professor Dr. Thomas Gasser, Chairman of the Board at Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research (HIH) of Tübingen University Hospital and also coordinator of clinical research at the site of the Tübingen German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) explains. The epidemiological research in this field have also made ​​progress. Further he reports: "We know factors such as coffee or nicotine which seems to protect against the disease, while others such as head injuries or pesticides appear to increase the risk. But in which way these factos interact and intervene in pathomechanism is unknown."

New technologies for genome analysis and the generation of stem cells should close these gaps now. Nowadays, stem cells can be bred from the skin of affected patients.

Together with neuroscientists from eight other countries the Tübingen team wants to analyse the entire genome from 300 patients with particular genetic family history. In another project, the brain researchers want to examine more closely the genomes of 500 other persons for whom risk genes are already found by means of a so-called "deep sequencing".

Source (in German):