Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have discovered that non-inheritable Parkinson's disease (PD) may be caused by changes in the immune regulating gene Interferon-beta (IFNβ). Treatment with IFNβ-gene therapy was successful in preventing neuron death and disease effects in an experimental model of PD.
"We found that IFNβ is essential for neurons ability to recycle waste proteins," study author Patrick Ejlerskov, assistant professor, said in a press release. "Without this, the waste proteins accumulate in disease-associated structures called Lewy bodies and with time the neurons die."
In the study, mice missing IFNβ developed Lewy bodies in the part of their brain that controls body movement and restoration of memory. As a result, they developed disease and clinical symptoms similar to patients with PD and dementia with Lewy bodies.