Important genetic clues about the origins of Parkinson's will be unveiled at a national research conference hosted by Parkinson's UK.
Dr Flaviano Giorgini and Dr Mariaelena Repici from the University of Leicester will reveal findings on the role of a rare inherited gene, believed to be involved in the development of early-onset Parkinson's.
The study looks at the role of the gene, DJ-1, which is believed to be linked to the development of Parkinson's. The gene, which produces a protein that helps to protect cells from certain types of damage, has been studied inside living cells for the first time.
Dr Giorgini, the study's lead researcher, explains, ''We have known for some time that the DJ-1 has been linked to Parkinson's, but this is the first time we have been able to try to understand why. Using cutting-edge microscopic imaging techniques, we were able to see how the protein behaves inside living human cells.
"Normally the DJ-1 protein works in pairs, but most Parkinson's-causing mutations in the DJ-1 gene stop the proteins pairing up which means they can't do their job properly.
''By understanding more about how this gene behaves when Parkinson's begins to develop, we hope to be able to open possible new avenues of treatment targeting DJ-1.''