Scientists report new findings concerning the role of environmental factors and the development of Parkinson’s disease. Authorities believe knowledge of how particular agents heightened or lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease will facilitate development of new prevention and treatment strategies for the disease.

The collaborative research effort, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), brings together investigators from Emory University, the University of California Los Angeles and The Parkinson’s Institute, which has served as the coordinating center for the study.

The Parkinson’s Institute announced the findings as part of the final meeting of the Collaborative Centers for Parkinson’s Disease Environmental Research (CCPDER).

Highlights of the research include:

    • The role of pesticides (eg. Paraquat and Dieldrin) as potential risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, a role suggested by both epidemiological statistics and laboratory evidence.
    • The threat of toxic agents to damage neurons by causing the accumulation of harmful proteins.
    • Intraneuronal protein aggregates as markers of Parkinson’s pathology, based on work carried out at The Parkinson’s Institute indicating that these aggregates could be formed as a consequence of toxic exposure.
    • The importance of targeting a specific protein, alpha-synuclein, in order to achieve neuroprotection in Parkinson’s
    • The role of inflammation in the development of Parkinson’s disease and the possibility that anti-inflammatory drugs could be beneficial to patients.
    • The possibility that nicotine may act as a neuroprotective agent.

“Our collaboration with Emory University and UCLA has allowed us to make great strives in identifying environmental factors involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease,” said Donato A. Di Monte, M.D., director of basic research at The Parkinson’s Institute.

“The findings that will be discussed at Asilomar will help us better understand the disease process, intervene earlier with neuroprotective treatment and work on preventive measures against Parkinson’s disease risk factors.”

Source: The Parkinson’s Institute