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Link between TB, Parkinson's identified

IANS  |  London 

Researchers have uncovered a potential cause of disease which may also help combat drug-resistant strains of (TB).

The biological causes of remain largely unknown, making it more difficult to develop and improve treatments.

The study, to be published in The EMBO Journal, showed that the mechanism our immune cells use to like (TB) might also be implicated in

"We think that this mechanism might also be at play in Parkinson's disease, where abnormal masses of protein called 'Lewy bodies' build up in neurons in the brain and cause damage," said Susanne Herbst, post-doctoral student at the -- a biomedical research centre in

"Drug-resistant is a serious emerging problem, and boosting the body's own immune defence against is an important step in the battle against antibiotic resistant strains," said from the Crick.

The most common genetic mutation in patients is in a gene called LRRK2, which makes the LRRK2 protein overactive.

By studying what LRRK2 does in immune cells, the researchers found that deleting the LRRK2 gene or treating the cells with an LRRK2 blocker significantly reduced levels of mycobacterium (Mtb).

The results were also supported by experiments in mice.

When the researchers deleted the gene for LRRK2 in mice, they found that they exhibited an enhanced early immune response to infection, and had significantly lower levels of Mtb in their lungs than control mice up to two weeks after

The team suspect that LRRK2 might be preventing immune cells in the brain from degrading cell debris properly, leading to a build-up of protein in neurons that disrupts their function.

"By studying TB, we have found a possible explanation for why LRRK2 mutations are a genetic risk factor for Parkinson's disease", Susanne noted.

The findings also suggest that LRRK2 inhibitors could be a powerful new way of combating TB, which kills 1.67 million people every year.

"LRRK2 inhibiting drugs are already being developed to treat and we're trying to see if we can repurpose them as a potential new TB therapy. This should be relatively straightforward because TB infects the lungs, so the LRRK2 inhibitors wouldn't need to cross the blood-brain barrier like they do in Parkinson's disease," said Susanne.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 23 2018. 18:04 IST