Scientists at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich say they have come one step closer to explaining how Parkinson's disease can affect the elderly, creating the potential for better treatments for those residing in assisted living homes.
Working with the knowledge that the degenerative condition causes the loss
of neurons in some areas of the brain, two researchers at the German school say that they have linked the genes affected by Parkinson's disease to mitochondria.
Since mitochondria act as the energy providers in cells, Professor Konstanze Winklhofer reported that the genes are likely leading to decreased cells because of an inability to transfer needed "fuel" through the nervous system.
Still, he and his team know that they are not quite there, but "when we understand the function of these genes, we can learn a lot about the causes of the disease, its progress and possible new therapies," noted Winklhofer.
Roughly 50,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease each year, although many more could have the condition but attribute symptoms to normal signs of aging, according to the National Institutes of Health.