A new study is looking into whether autoimmunity is a trigger for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes an individual to have issues with coordination, balance and walking. This progressive disorder also causes stiffness and shaking, and is known to worsen over time.
Figures show that about one million individuals in America suffer from Parkinson’s disease. On a global scale, the disease is said to affect more than 10 million individuals. Thus far, research has shown that before the disease progresses to a loss in motor skills, patients may experience changes in their sense of smell, have issues with sleep and also have constipation.
However, while researchers are still in the dark about the ailment’s initial triggers, they hypothesize that an individual’s immune system attacking its own cells may play a role.
Parkinson Foundation’s chief scientific officer James Beck stated in a recent interview that there was emerging evidence suggesting that the progressive disorder could partly be an autoimmune illness. For instance, a 2020 study conducted by La Jolla Institute for Immunology researchers found that in the course of Parkinson’s disease, patients’ immune systems began targeting alpha-synuclein. Alpha-synuclein is a neuronal protein found in the brain as well as muscle and other tissues.
Beck explained that the inflammation linked with Parkinson’s disease may have been brought about by autoimmune processes, noting that researchers had yet to discover what initiated this particular process. The same scientists have now discovered a genetic signature in memory T cells that respond to alpha-synculein. T cells are immune cells that remember certain molecular features of past autoimmune reactions or infections.
For their latest study, scientists compared the activity of genes in memory T cells from healthy controls and those with Parkinson’s. They found a range of genes with varying levels of activity, in comparison to the controls, noting that some of these genes had been linked to this progressive disorder. This included some of the genes involved in inflammation and oxidative stress.
In addition to this, they discovered that the genetic signature of the disease in these cells included the LRRK2 gene, which is commonly associated with the familial type of Parkinson’s disease. Their findings were published in the “Nature Partners” Journal.
The team is currently focused on finding ways to use the genetic signature of the disease in memory T cells to identify individuals who may develop the illness. They hope that their findings will facilitate the development of new treatments for this debilitating disorder as well. Several companies, including Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO), are already searching for the next breakthrough treatment for Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions, and psychedelics could be the secret sauce that delivers those novel remedies.
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