WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers who
identified a protein that worsens symptoms of Parkinson's disease
say their finding could eventually lead to new treatments for the
The protein, RGS4, normally helps regulate the activity in
neurons in the striatum, the part of the brain that controls
But in models of Parkinson's disease in mice, the researchers
found that RGS4 actually contributes to problems with motor
control, leading to a deterioration of movement and motor
The study, published online Jan. 25 in the journal
Neuron, was conducted by scientists at the Gladstone Institutes, a nonprofit biomedical research organization affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
It's long been known that decreased levels of the brain chemical
dopamine are associated with Parkinson's. Patients take a drug
called Levodopa to increase dopamine levels but the drug's
effectiveness begins to weaken as the disease progresses.
This has led scientists to start looking for potential new
"About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's annually, and dopamine-based therapies often do not provide a long-term solution," Anatol Kreitzer, a Gladstone investigator and an assistant professor of physiology and neurology at UCSF, said in a Gladstone news release.
"Our discovery that RGS4 may play a role in the development of Parkinson's symptoms helps us lay the groundwork for a new therapeutic strategy -- independent of dopamine," he claimed.
While studies involving animals can be promising, they
frequently fail to produce similar results in humans.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about