This study shows an important cause of Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders, afflicting more than 6 million patients around the world.

Around 20 genetic defects have already been linked to the disease, but researchers don’t understand the function of many of these genes.

In a recent study from KU Leuven, biomedical scientists have discovered that a defect in a gene (ATP13A2) causes cell death.

When this happens in the part of the brain that controls body movement, it can lead to Parkinson’s disease.

The study is published in Nature. The lead author is Peter Vangheluwe from the Laboratory of Cellular Transport Systems at KU Leuven.

In the study, the team found that gene ATP13A2 transports polyamines and is crucial for their uptake into the cell.

Polyamines are essential molecules that support many cell functions and protect cells in stress conditions.

But how polyamines are taken up and transported in human cells was still a mystery. this study reveals that ATP13A2 plays a vital role in that process.

Their experiments showed that polyamines enter the cell and that gene ATP13A2 transfers polyamines to the cell interior.

This transport process is essential for the ‘waste disposal system’ of the cell, where obsolete cell material is broken down and recycled.

However, mutations in the ATP13A2 gene disrupt this transport process. As a result, the cells die.

When this happens in the part of the brain that controls body movement, this process may trigger the motion problems and tremors related to Parkinson’s disease.

Unraveling the role of ATP13A2 is an important step forward in Parkinson’s research and sheds new light on what causes the disease, but a lot of work remains to be done.

The team says the new discovery has implications beyond Parkinson’s disease as well, because polyamine transporters also play a role in other age-related conditions, including cancer, heart diseases, and several neurological disorders.

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