Team to study new gene associated with Parkinson's disease

June 15, 2018 by Kelsey Schnieders Lefever, Purdue University

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Purdue University and the University of Bordeaux in France has received a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease to study a new gene associated with Parkinson's disease, which was linked to the disease using novel big data methodologies.

The findings from this research could potentially be used to design new therapies to slow neurodegeneration in the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease and other related disorders.

Jean-Christophe Rochet, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Purdue; Erwan Bezard, research director at the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Bordeaux; Jason Cannon, associate professor of toxicology at Purdue; and Min Zhang, professor of statistics at Purdue, will study the neuroprotective effects of the new gene, known as NFE2L1, in Parkinson's . Their collaboration was helped by a nearly $107,000 grant from the organization named for the famous actor who has Parkinson's.

Zhang and Rochet began discussing a potential collaboration 10 years ago because of their common interest in Parkinson's disease. While analyzing several data sets obtained from one of the National Institutes of Health-Designated Data Repositories, they identified a list of genes associated with the disease.

"While some of the genes on the list were already known, Chris found an interesting gene that has not been reported to be directly associated with Parkinson's disease yet," Zhang said.

NFE2L1 is a protein that controls the expression of involved in the differentiation and survival of dopamine neurons.

"NFE2L1 levels are reduced in in the brains of Parkinson's disease patients," Rochet said. "We recently found in a large-scale genomic study that a minor allele of NFE2L1 can lower Parkinson's risk. These observations imply that neuron death in Parkinson's disease may result in part from a loss of the neuroprotective action of NFE2L1."

The team hypothesizes that an increase of NFE2L1 can alleviate in rodent models of Parkinson's disease. The results of the study will shed light on the ability of NFE2L1 to reduce neurotoxicity throughout the brain.

Zhang and Rochet hope that the results of the study will set the stage for developing Parkinson's therapies aimed at increasing NFE2L1 levels in the brain. The next step toward clinical application of the results of this study will be to screen for compounds that increase NFE2L1 levels in the brain, either by stimulating the protein's expression or blocking the protein's destruction by the proteasome.

Explore further: Discovery may offer hope to Parkinson's disease patients

Related Stories

Discovery may offer hope to Parkinson's disease patients

May 22, 2017
The finding of a common protein abnormality in these degenerative diseases supports a hypothesis among experts that abnormal deposition of proteins in many neurodegenerative disorders reflects an early change in these proteins.

Helping the heart to cope with stress

February 26, 2018
A new Junior Research Group at the Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention will focus on metabolic adaption of heart muscle cells to find new therapies for combating heart disease.

Key factor in development of Parkinson's disease identified

April 20, 2018
A molecule has been identified that appears to play an important role in the development of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating disease that affects millions of people around the world.

Conversion of brain cells offers hope for Parkinson's patients

April 11, 2017
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have made significant progress in the search for new treatments for Parkinson's disease. By manipulating the gene expression of non-neuronal cells in the brain, they were able to produce ...

Tapeworm drug could lead the fight against Parkinson's disease

December 12, 2017
Researchers at Cardiff University, in collaboration with the University of Dundee, have identified a drug molecule within a medicine used to treat tapeworm infections which could lead to new treatments for patients with Parkinson's ...

Researchers shed light on why exercise slows progression of Parkinson's disease

December 22, 2017
While vigorous exercise on a treadmill has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients, the molecular reasons behind it have remained a mystery.

Recommended for you

Genomic dark matter activity connects Parkinson's and psychiatric diseases

September 20, 2018
Dopamine neurons are located in the midbrain, but their tendril-like axons can branch far into the higher cortical areas, influencing how we move and how we feel. New genetic evidence has revealed that these specialized cells ...

Gene therapy shown to remove core component of Parkinson's disease

September 14, 2018
An international team led by Rush researcher Jeffrey Kordower, Ph.D., has moved a step closer to developing a treatment to clear brain cells of a protein that is an integral cause of Parkinson's disease. The team published ...

ADHD may increase risk of Parkinson's disease and similar disorders

September 12, 2018
While about 11 percent of children (4-17 years old) nationwide have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the long-term health effects of having ADHD and of common ADHD medications remains understudied. ...

New high-throughput screening study may open up for future Parkinson's disease therapy

September 11, 2018
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the most common movement disorder in the world. PD patients suffer from shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking. It is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the loss ...

Marmosets serve as an effective model for non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease

September 5, 2018
Small, New World monkeys called marmosets can mimic the sleep disturbances, changes in circadian rhythm, and cognitive impairment people with Parkinson's disease develop, according to a new study by scientists at Texas Biomedical ...

Novel brain network linked to chronic pain in Parkinson's disease

August 28, 2018
Scientists have revealed a novel brain network that links pain in Parkinson's disease (PD) to a specific region of the brain, according to a report in the journal eLife.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.