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Breaking the brain’s “recycling machine” provides a clue to Parkinson’s treatment

Bademosi said that in about 10 percent of Parkinson’s cases, there was an obvious cause, usually a chronic brain injury or other physical damage to the brain that caused the symptoms, which included loss of motor function and speech impairment, among others.


However, in 90 percent of cases, symptoms came on gradually with no specific external causes, and were instead caused by internal factors such as protein buildup.

There was a possibility, Bademosi said, that doctors might be able to treat it right away, before it caused the brain damage.

“There are the classic movement-related symptoms of the disease, but there are also non-motion symptoms such as loss of smell, which can occur up to 10 years earlier,” he said.

“For those people, their internal recycling plant may have already broken down.”

Bademosi said current Parkinson’s treatments tend to focus on clearing up the buildup, but their research suggested that looking at drugs that trigger autophagy could become a more effective treatment.

“It’s a fine line. You have to strike the right balance therapeutically to make sure the waste processing plant is working properly, but not that it starts attacking the neurons themselves,” he said.

“That’s now the next phase of the investigation.”

The research has been published in the journal neuron.