University of Leicester researchers reveal important genetic clues at Parkinson’s conference

Posted by pt91 at Nov 05, 2012 05:24 PM |
Dr Flaviano Giorgini and Dr Mariaelena Repici present findings on rare gene

Issued by Parkinsons UK on 2 November 2012

Important genetic clues about the origins of Parkinson’s will be unveiled at a national research conference hosted by Parkinson’s UK.

Dr Flaviano Giorgini and Dr Mariaelena Repici from the University of Leicester will reveal findings on the role of a rare inherited gene, believed to be involved in the development of early-onset Parkinson’s.

The research, which was funded by a grant from Parkinson’s UK, was produced in collaboration with Prof Tiago Outeiro at the University of Göttingen, Germany.

The study looks at the role of the gene, DJ-1, which believed to be linked to the development of Parkinson’s. The gene, which produces a protein that helps to protect cells from certain types of damage, has been studied inside living cells for the first time.

Dr Giorgini, the study’s lead researcher, explains: “We have known for sometime that the DJ-1 has been linked to Parkinson’s, but this is the first time we have been able to try to understand why. Using cutting-edge microscopic imaging techniques, we were able to see how the protein behaves inside living human cells.

"Normally the DJ-1 protein works in pairs, but most Parkinson’s-causing mutations in the DJ-1 gene stop the proteins pairing up which means they can't do their job properly.

“By understanding more about how this gene behaves when Parkinson’s begins to develop, we hope to be able to open possible new avenues of treatment targeting DJ-1.”

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Innovation at Parkinson’s UK, added: “This new, early stage research has provided some much needed insight into how DJ-1 behaves when Parkinson’s begins to develop.

“Very little is known about the causes of Parkinson’s and this new research is an important addition about the genetic changes that may be involved. It is fantastic that such important new results will be shared and discussed with the UK Parkinson's research community at our conference.

“Sharing ideas, results and challenges is what our research conference is all about, and is our best hope of finding a cure.”


The Parkinson’s UK research conference, takes place on 5-6 November 2012, at the Royal York Hotel, Yorkshire. For more details on the conference, the study and how to attend contact:

Jill Davis on 020 7932 1335 or Out of hours: 07961 460248

Notes to editors

Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's.

It affects 127,000 people in the UK - which is around one in 500 of the population.

One in 20 people are under 40 when they are diagnosed.

Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

For advice, information and support, visit or call our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.

Help us to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s. 

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