Youâve probably seen the Parkinsonâs awareness commercials featuring Michael J. Fox. He informs the viewer about the disease and then gives some information about how they can help spread awareness or generate funding or donations for research. If you havenât seen these commercials in particular, you can likely imagine what Iâm talking about because the same type of commercial exists for countless conditions. The funds raised through these awareness campaigns and other avenues help facilitate new research, ultimately leading to a better understanding of these conditions, the development of new technologies, and the discovery of further prevention and treatment techniques.
Iâve always wondered exactly what the outcomes of each of these campaigns might be. Well, I recently read about one such developmentâa state-of-the-art gene chip called âNeuroX.â This chip recently helped researchers discover six previously unreported genetic risk factors that might cause Parkinsonâs disease.
Parkinsonâs is a very complex neurodegenerative disease thatâs largely misunderstood. It affects millions of people worldwide, causing trembling limbs, stiffness, slow movements, and posture problems. In its more advanced stages, patients might experience difficulty walking, talking, or completing simple, everyday tasks.
This new study that I came across, largely funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), looked at data from existing genome studies to examine similar variants, along with less noticeable differences in the genetic codes of more than 100,000 people. The studies featured nearly 14,000 people with Parkinsonâs and more than 95,000 control participants. Through this data, the researchers were able to identify common genetic variants that may help determine if and how a person develops Parkinsonâs. The study pointed out that the more genetic variants a person has, the greater their risk of developing the disease.
The results were then cross-referenced with the NeuroX chip, which contains roughly 24,000 common genetic variants associated with a number or neurodegenerative disorders.
The chip highlighted the common variants for Parkinsonâs, shining some light on new proteins and brain chemicals to focus on in further research. This information also helps us get a better grasp on why this condition occurs, while hopefully leading to new prevention and treatment techniques.
Iâve heard people complain on occasion about how various groups have been collecting money to treat diseases and they rarely see the results. (Iâll admit, there are times when I share this sentiment.) But this is a big result. Furthermore, treatments for conditions like cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and others have greatly improved as more money has become available for research. Such research breakthroughs arenât going to stop at these Parkinsonâs/NeuroX studies.
Source for Todayâs Article:
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, âSix New Genetic Risk Factors for Parkinsonâs Found,â ScienceDaily web site, July 27, 2014; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140727165714.htm.