An international team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Florida has said that they have discovered a genetic variation that protects against Parkinson's disease.
The gene variants cut the risk of developing the disease by nearly 20 percent in many populations.
The study also reported the discovery of different variants of the same gene, LRRK2- the most important Parkinson's risk gene found to date - that double Parkinson's risk in Caucasians and Asians.
In addition, the finding provides evidence that Parkinson's disease is influenced by multiple genetic risks that act together to cause disease.
"The idea that Parkinson's disease occurs mostly in a random sporadic fashion is changing," said lead investigator Owen Ross, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Mayo Clinic Florida.
"Our study, one of the largest to date in the study of the genetics of Parkinson's disease, shows that a single gene, LRRK2, harbours both rare and common variants that in turn alter the susceptibility to PD in diverse populations," he stated.
Researchers hope to use these and future genetic findings to predict who is at risk of Parkinson's and to develop novel targeted therapies, Dr. Ross added.
The study has been published in the online Aug. 31 issue of Lancet Neurology.