A genetic mutation has been identified by researchers which is responsible for over 20% of the incidences of Parkinson's disease among Jews, North Africans and Arabs. It was previously believed that genetics had a very minor role to play in the disease. This particular mutation is quite rare where people living outside the Middle East are concerned. Other mutations may be responsible for the incidences of Parkinson's disease beyond this region. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Susan Bressman led the study.
The research may serve to solve the mystery that still shrouds the disease which results in mental decline, rigidity and tremors at a later age. There is as yet no way of preventing the onset of this disease which affects as many as half a million Americans, with 40,000 people being diagnosed in the country every year. Drugs can only serve the purpose of slowing down its progression. Pesticides and environmental factors are believed to be responsible for this, but there is no evidence to prove this theory. The gene known as the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) received the focus of the study, as it instructs the human brain to create the protein dardarin, which means tremor in Basque.
The dardarin is comprised of 2,527 amino acids. A new mutation wherein amino acid No. 2,019 in the form of glycine is also created in the abnormal version. The first such change in the Middle East Region could have taken place as early as 2,000 years ago. The Ashkenazi Jews who have Eastern European roots, and suffer from Parkinson's were also studied. The glycine-to-serine error was detected in 18% of the cases. The glitch was also found in 40% of the Arab population. The role that dardarin plays in the brain has still not been determined, but its mutated version result in the creation of extra phosphates on proteins, which is common among Parkinson's patients. The study goes to prove that a single genetic defect may be responsible for the Parkinson's disease in certain races of people.