The first transgenic mouse to display the earliest signs of Parkinson's disease using the genetic mutation that is characteristic of human forms of the disease has been crated by researchers.
The mouse model, which expresses the same mutant proteins as human Parkinson's patients, also displays early signs of constipation and other gastrointestinal problems that are a common harbinger of the disease in humans.
Thus, researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have said that these animals could serve as a means of investigating therapies for reversing the neurological dysfunction of the disease at its earliest stages.
For a long time, researchers have suspected that the neurological component of Parkinson's, which causes tremors and stiffness among other symptoms, is actually a late-stage effect of a larger, systemic problem, says Dr. Robert L. Nussbaum, senior author on the paper.
"This new model validates that theory by mimicking what we know to be the genetic pathway leading to Parkinson's, while also displaying the earliest symptoms that occur in humans. This will give us an important tool in identifying an early intervention for this devastating disease," said Nussbaum.
The UCSF mouse model is the first to display the full gastrointestinal symptoms as well, and is consistent with the progression of the disease in humans.
The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal, 'Human Molecular Genetics'.