New discovery about how dementia develops in people with Parkinson’s

Credit: Gustavo Fring/ Pexels.

In a study from Murdoch University and elsewhere, scientists found a genetic variant with a five times higher risk factor for predicting the progression of dementia.

Dementia is one of the most debilitating symptoms of disease progression in people with Parkinson’s disease, with a huge influence on the quality of life, caregivers, and health costs.

A large number of people with Parkinson’s develops dementia.

Along with movement disorders and other symptoms, the majority of those with a Parkinson’s diagnosis experience some form of cognitive impairment over time.

Although the past decade has seen success in identifying genetic variants linked to disease susceptibility for many common diseases, knowledge of the genetic architecture for the progression and prognosis of cognitive decline in Parkinson’s has been limited.

In the study, the team set out to establish which genes determine whether a patient will have an aggressive course of the disease and which genetic variations influence who will develop dementia and the time dimension.

The team discovered a genetic variant with a five times higher risk factor for predicting the progression of dementia.

The data from the lengthy longitudinal study has also been used to develop an innovative scoring system to predict the likelihood of developing dementia in Parkinson’s.

The effects of 11.2 million genetic variants were analyzed in this study involving almost five thousand Parkinson’s patients in 15 cohorts.

The team says the hope for the future is that disease-modifying drugs that target the genetic drivers of Parkinson’s disease progression can potentially turn fast progressors into slow progressors, substantially improving quality of life.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about new drugs for incurable vascular dementia, and high blood pressure may lower dementia risk for some old adults.

For more information about dementia, please see recent studies that cataract removal may reduce the dementia risk by 30%, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.

The study was conducted by Professor Sulev Koks et al and published in Nature Genetics.

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