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We need the name and password, in order to access it.
Hm, I didn't need it. Oh well here you go.
Lack of "Sonic Hedgehog" brain chemical linked to development of Parkinson's disease
TORONTO, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - Decreased amounts of a newly-identified brain
chemical called Sonic Hedgehog contribute to symptoms of Parkinson's disease,
report scientists at Toronto Western Hospital. The findings suggest that
increasing the amount of Sonic Hedgehog in the brain may be a potential
treatment for Parkinson's disease.
Researchers have known that Sonic Hedgehog - named after the video game -
was a protein involved in forming the mammalian brain and body while in the
womb. However, as Sonic Hedgehog is also found in the adult brain, its
function after birth was never understood.
In a study published in the October 2 issue of FASEB Journal, an
international scientific journal published by the Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology, principal investigator Dr. Jonathan
Brotchie and his collaborators in France, U.S.A., and U.K. show that Sonic
Hedgehog is a neurotransmitter, a chemical crucial for the communication of
brain and nerve cells.
The study also shows that Sonic Hedgehog is found in the area of the
brain that controls movement, and that it influences activity of the specific
part of the brain, called the "subthalamic nucleus", which is known to be
hyperactive in people with Parkinson's disease. The scientists discovered that
the subthalamic nucleus is hyperactive because there are insufficient amounts
of Sonic Hedgehog to adequately control its activity.
"The research demonstrates that Sonic Hedgehog plays a surprising role in
the brain's control of body movement," says Dr. Jonathan Brotchie, senior
scientist with Toronto Western Research Institute, the research arm of Toronto
Western Hospital. He is the first researcher at Toronto Western Hospital to be
supported by the Krembil Scientist Fund, which supports exceptional
neuroscience laboratory research.
"More importantly, we have shown that this function of Sonic Hedgehog is
reduced in Parkinson's disease, and that this reduction may be one of the
causes of Parkinson's disease. In fact, we are hopeful this discovery may lead
us to a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease."
Further research is needed to develop Sonic Hedgehog into a medication,
which will likely take years.
To understand the role of Sonic Hedgehog, Dr. Brotchie and his
collaborators measured the electrical activity of brain slices from the
subthalamic nucleus of adult rats, before and after adding a solution of Sonic
Hedgehog. Within minutes of adding Sonic Hedgehog, the amount of electrical
activity in the subthalamic nucleus decreased. In looking at an animal model
of Parkinson's disease, they saw that the gene responsible for Sonic Hedgehog
was switched off. The scientists expect that these findings will be applicable
"Our discovery will allow a more focused approach for treating
Parkinson's disease - one that just targets the malfunctioning areas of the
brain," says Dr. Brotchie. "Medications currently used to treat Parkinson's
disease affect neurotransmitters located throughout the brain."
Parkinson's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the
central nervous system. In Canada, approximately one percent of people over
the age of 55 have Parkinson's disease. Symptoms include tremor, slow
movement, shuffling, impaired balance and coordination, and fixed facial
expression. While the average age of onset is 60, Parkinson's disease can
affect people as young as 30 or 40.
As there is no known cure, current treatments focus on symptoms and
improving the patient's quality of life. Many medications cause side effects
such as dyskinesia - abnormal, involuntary movements. Other treatments include
surgery such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) - a surgical treatment pioneered
at Toronto Western Hospital, one of few North American centres to offer the
treatment - which involves implanting electrodes into the brain to address the
electrical activity of the subthalamic nucleus. A recent long-term study
indicates that DBS does improve the motor skills of patients with advanced
The study was supported in part by the Medical Research Council, Curis
Inc., Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the U.K.
Parkinson's Disease Society, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and
University Victor Segalen-Bordeaux.
Toronto Western Hospital has been serving the health care needs of its
culturally diverse community for more than 100 years. Today, the hospital
provides highly specialized tertiary care to people from surrounding areas and
across Canada. Home to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, one of the largest
combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America, the
hospital also offers a community and population health program and expertise
in musculoskeletal health and arthritis. Toronto Western Hospital is one of
three hospitals - including Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret
Hospital - that comprise University Health Network, a teaching hospital of the
University of Toronto.