FLANDERS, Belgium, May 11 (UPI) -- Vitamin K2 may help treat Parkinson's disease, researchers in Belgium said.
Neuroscientist Patrik Verstreken of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, in collaboration with colleagues from Northern Illinois University, reported success in using vitamin K2 to undo the effect of one of the genetic defects that leads to Parkinson's.
"It appears from our research that administering vitamin K2 could possibly help patients with Parkinson's, but more work needs to be done to understand this better," Verstreken said in a statement.
Verstreken and his team used fruit flies with a genetic defect in PINK1, or Parkin, that is similar to the one associated with Parkinson's. Verstreken said the flies with a PINK1 mutation lost their ability to fly.
The researchers discovered mitochondria in fruit flies were defective, just as in Parkinson's patients. Because of this they generated less intracellular energy -- energy the insects needed to fly.
When the flies were given vitamin K2, the energy production in their mitochondria was restored and the insects' ability to fly improved.
The researchers were able to determine the energy production was restored because the vitamin K2 had improved electron transport in the mitochondria, which in turn, led to improved energy production.
The findings were published in the journal Science.