Waste substance found in blood can protect against effects of Parkinson’s disease
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Monday 17 December 2012
A waste substance found in the blood that is linked with gout and diabetes has been found to protect against the effects of Parkinson’s disease, a study has found.
High levels of urate, which is produced as a waste by-product of normal metabolism, can actually protect the brain against the degeneration of key nerve cells seen in Parkinson’s patients, scientists said.
A study involving genetically modified laboratory mice found that higher-than-usual amounts of urate in the bloodstream appear to reduce the loss of cells that produce dopamine, a neuro-transmitter that is lacking in Parkinson’s patients.
Mice with abnormally low urate levels suffered a significantly greater loss of dopamine cells in the brain. Scientists believe the results suggest that urate, an anti-oxidant, could protect Parkinson’s patients from further neuro-degeneration.
“Our study is the first demonstration in an animal model that genetic elevation of urate can protect dopamine neurons from degeneration and that lowering urate can conversely exacerbate neuro-degeneration,” said Xiqun Chen of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, follows earlier research showing that people with high levels of urate in their blood are less likely than other individuals to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Michael Schwarzschild, director of the hospital’s Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, said: “The biology of urate in the brain is largely unexplored. Understanding both urate’s mechanisms of protection and the way its levels are regulated in the body will help us to determine how to better harness its protective effects, if they are substantiated.”
Life & Style blogs
Other popular areas include Didsbury, Clifton in Bristol, central Cambridge and West Bridgford
Doctors are allowed to have personal beliefs, just as long as these beliefs do not interfere with th...
BBC journalist Justin Webb talks about his experiences of the advances in preventing heart attacks a...
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
Meet David Karp, the 26-year-old high school dropout worth $275m after selling Tumblr to Yahoo
Game on: Xbox 720 and PS4 go head to head with Microsoft set to launch console today
Mothers’ diets may harm IQs of two babies in three
'The ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system': Microsoft finally unveils its Xbox ONE console
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Salary Package - £60K to £120K: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting op...
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer - Urgent Requirem...
£70000 - £95000 per annum + Bonus, flexible working hours, remote work: Progre...
£50000 - £56000 per annum + Benefits package, flexible working hours: Progress...