BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. and British studies have suggested a mutation in a recently discovered gene is the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease to date.
The findings, published in The Lancet, could lead to the development of a genetic test to detect the mutation in individuals at risk.
"Among the forms of Parkinson's disease that are genetic in origin, this gene mutation causes more cases of Parkinson's disease than any other gene discovered to date," Andrew Singleton, of the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Neurogenetics, said in a statement.
"Knowing that this mutation is not only important in familial forms of disease, but in typical sporadic disease, where there is no strong family history, could lead to earlier detection of Parkinson's disease. Further study of how this gene works also might help scientists identify new treatments."
Scientists have long suspected genetics played a role in Parkinson's disease. The researchers found that a mutation in the gene LRRK2 appears to occur in at least one of every 60 people who have the disease.