Century-old Parkinson’s question answered
Scientists say they have found the first direct evidence that the immune system does attack the brain in Parkinson’s disease.
The role of “autoimmunity” was first suggested nearly a century ago, but had not been confirmed. The discovery, in the journal Nature, suggests that drugs to calm the immune system could help manage the disease. In Parkinson’s the brain is progressively damaged leading to a tremor and difficulty moving. And at the same time very high levels of the protein alpha-synuclein accumulate in the brain.
Scientists – at Columbia University Medical Center and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology – analysed the blood of 67 patients with the disease to see if they could find evidence of autoimmunity. The team discovered that T-cells, a part of your immune system, were launching an assault on the alpha-synuclein. It means the immune system is recognising alpha-synuclein as a foreign invader such as a bacterium or virus. Read more BBC News