A new study in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, conducted by The Parkinson's Institute Stem Cell Lab under the direction of Dr. Birgitt Schuele, has shown that there is a significant relationship between Parkinson's disease and the malfunction of the mitochondrial system within each cell that produces normal cellular engery.
For this study, our researchers looked at skin cells from a living Parkinson's patient who had a gene associated with overproduction of alpha-synuclein, a protein associated with Parkinson's disease. The research showed the energy production of the cells was greatly hampered in this patient. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been frequently implicated in the neurodegenerative process that leads to neuron death, but the basis for this has not been fully understood. This study brings us closer to proving that theory. When measures were taken to "correct" the alpha-synuclein overproduction, those cells were better able to produce energy. Linking alpha-synuclein overproduction and mitochondrial dysfunction brings us another step closer to truly understanding how and why Parkinson's develops and to stopping its progression.
The Parkinson's Institute is unique in its ability to merge its patient care and medical research for advancing the understanding of the causes and treatment of PD.
The full article, titled "Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Skin Fibroblasts from a Parkinson's Disease Patient with an alpha-Synuclein Triplication," was published by the Stem Cell Lab at The Parkinson's Institute, Sally K. Mak, PhD; Deepika Tewari, MS; James W. Tetrud, MD; J. William Langston, MD and Birgitt Schuele, MD.