Researchers identify new target for Parkinson's disease

Investigators have found a new link between a specific protein and Parkinson's disease.
By Amy Wallace  |  Feb. 28, 2017 at 3:47 PM
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Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A study from Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., has identified a link between the synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2C, or SV2C, and Parkinson's disease, which could lead to more targeted treatments.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement and leads to body tremors.

SV2C is part of a family of proteins responsible for regulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, which helps regulate emotion, motivation and movement.

Dopamine depletion is common in people with Parkinson's disease. In prior studies, SV2C was associated with the ability of cigarette smoking to reduce Parkinson's disease risk.

For the study, researchers generated mice that were lacking in SV2C, causing less dopamine in the brain and reduced movement. The mice showed a blunted response to nicotine from cigarette smoke.

Researchers also found altered levels of SV2C in the brain tissue of patients who died from Parkinson's disease.

"Our research reveals a connection between SV2C and dopamine and suggests that drug therapies aimed at SV2C may be beneficial in PD or other dopamine-related disorders," Gary W. Miller, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for research at the Rollins School of Public Health and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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