Gene may explain why more men get Parkinson's
22 February 2006 00:00 in Industry related health news
Scientists believe that they might be able to explain why more men than women develop Parkinson's disease.
Scientists at Prince Henry's Institute, Melbourne, and the University of California, Los Angeles, have discovered that SRY, the male protein that forms the testes, is also produced in the brain region affected in Parkinson's disease.
The research, to be published in the journal Current Biology, could explain why more men than women develop the degenerative disorder. Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than women.
The scientists traced the SRY protein to a region of the brain called the substantia nigra, which deteriorates in Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease develops when cells in the substantia nigra begin to malfunction and die, producing less dopamine.
Dopamine, a chemical messenger, communicates with the brain to control movement and co-ordination. People with Parkinson's disease become unable to initiate or control their physical movements, eventually leading to paralysis.
Professor Vincent Harley, head of the human molecular genetics group at Prince Henry's Institute, said that the discovery could have important implications for the treatment of a number of diseases.
"Our research has shown that a gene only present in males contributes to the control of physical movement, a fundamental brain function," he said.
"The SRY gene may also explain the sex differences in other dopamine-linked disorders with a higher incidence in males, such as schizophrenia or addiction."
SRY is passed from father to son on the Y chromosome and is not present in females.© Adfero Ltd
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