Key Gene Linked to Parkinson Disease

Researchers at Northwestern University and the National Institutes of Health have uncovered a major clue in the underlying cause of Parkinson disease.  Affecting more than 1% of those over 60 years of age, Parkinson disease results from the death of a special class of neurons in an area of the brain known as the midbrain.  The recent study showed that a particular gene is critical to the life of these neurons, and that robust expression of the gene can actually trigger the growth of new neurons.  The Northwestern group was led by neurology department assistant professor Raj Awatramani.