Parkinson's disease is finally better understood


Researchers at UCLouvain have discovered a close link between the role of an enzyme (PARK7) in sugar metabolism and a new type of cell damage caused in some cases of Parkinson's disease.

Like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting from the death of certain brain cells. And to this day, we still do not know why this very debilitating disease develops. However, an important step has finally been taken towards better understanding this relatively frequent pathology.

The research team led by Professor Guido Bommer, at the de Duve Institute of UCLouvain, has just discovered the role of an enzyme - PARK7 - in certain patients with Parkinson's disease.

This enzyme could play a role in the metabolism of sugars by glycolysis (the process of the degradation of glucose in a living organism under the action of enzymes). And the Belgian researchers observed that inactivating this PARK7 caused an accumulation of damage in human cells. Some cases of Parkinson's disease could therefore be due to the genetic inactivation of the PARK7 enzyme.

Until now, despite thousands of scientific papers being published on the subject, the function of PARK7 remained unknown. Professor Bommer points out that, "it is exceptional, nowadays, to make such a fundamental discovery on a subject that has been studied so much in the past."

Thanks to this better understanding of the mechanisms behind Parkinson's disease, new treatments will undoubtedly be developed in the future that target the origin of this disease, rather than its symptoms.

The entire international scientific community welcomes this research, which has just been published in the prestigious American journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).