2/01/2006

Gene Mutation and Parkinson's Disease

January 26, 2006 — (BRONX, NY) — Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and its Manhattan hospital affiliate, Beth Israel Medical Center, have found that a specific mutation in a single gene is a major cause of Parkinson’s disease among Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. The report will appear in the January 26 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Like the discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations for breast cancer, this finding will directly affect the way Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed in Ashkenazi Jews," says Dr. Susan B. Bressman, senior investigator of the report, "It also emphasizes the benefit of focusing genetic studies in a specific ethnic group, even with regard to a disease not thought to be primarily genetic in origin."

"Our finding should bring genetic counseling for Parkinson’s disease to the forefront along with genetic testing for early detection of Parkinson’s disease." adds study co-author Dr. Laurie J. Ozelius, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics at Einstein.

The researchers focused on a gene called LRRK2, which is mutated in about 1% of late-onset non-familial cases of Parkinson’s disease in those patients who are primarily of European ancestry.

In addition to Ashkenazi Jews, the researchers note that a group of North Africans of Arab descent have been found to have a high frequency of this same gene mutation as a cause of Parkinson’s disease. The two groups appear to share the same origin or founder, suggesting a probable Middle Eastern origin for this mutation.

AECOM: News Releases

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