Parkinson mechanism laid bare

An explanation of why the brain cells that make dopamine go awry in Parkinson's disease could lead to new treatments for this debilitating disease. Susan Lindquist and Nancy Bonini of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have pinpointed defects in a critical cellular pathway that can lead to the death of dopamine-producing nerve cells and ultimately the symptoms of the disease. They have also found a way to rescue dying neurons in several animal models of Parkinson's disease, which could offer hope of developing new drugs to fight the underlying cause. Lindquist cautions that the findings are yet to be confirmed in people. "However," she says, "given the fact that we've found the same results in yeast, flies, worms and rat neurons, I would be very surprised if we didn't find that they were relevant in humans."