Chicago, March 21 (IANS) US scientists have shown that suppressing a gene linked to Parkinson's disease through therapy could actually speed up disease progress and lead to dementia and physical disability.
NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) and Mayo Clinic researchers have partnered on a study that shows genetic and clinical evidence that therapies targeting the expression of alpha-synuclein, a gene whose function is involved in the development and progression of Parkinson's disease may accelerate disease progression and increase the risk of physical incapacitation and dementia.
If replicated, the findings will have profound implications for therapies under development for Parkinson's disease.
"Our research suggests therapies that seek to suppress alpha-synuclein in Parkinson's disease may actually accelerate the disease process and increase the risk for developing severe physical disability and dementia," says lead author Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., Ruth Cain Ruggles Chairman, Department of Neurology at NorthShore.
"We believe it is our responsibility to release these data because this type of treatment may have long-term harmful effects," said Maraganore.
Alpha-synuclein is a major component of Lewy bodies, a characteristic brain cell abnormality that occurs in all cases of Parkinson's disease, reports Science Daily.
"For the first time we observed that while over-expression of alpha-synuclein increases the risk for developing Parkinson's disease, conversely, under-expression is associated with worse motor and cognitive outcomes after the disease starts," says first author Katerina Markopoulou, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at NorthShore.
"This raises concerns about the efficacy and safety of therapies designed to reduce alpha-synuclein expression in Parkinson's disease."