Brain chemical lost in Parkinson’s may contribute to its own demise | Science News

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Brain chemical lost in Parkinson’s may contribute to its own demise

In a hopeful note, treating dopamine-producing nerve cells with antioxidants lessened damage

2:12pm, September 7, 2017
illustration of neurons

DOPAMINE DAMAGE  In Parkinson's disease, a dangerous form of the chemical messenger dopamine may help destroy the nerve cells that produce it, a new study suggests.

The brain chemical missing in Parkinson’s disease may have a hand in its own death. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps keep body movements fluid, can kick off a toxic chain reaction that ultimately kills the nerve cells that make it, a new study suggests.

By studying lab dishes of human nerve cells, or neurons, derived from Parkinson’s patients, researchers found that a harmful form of dopamine can inflict damage on cells in multiple ways. The result, published online September 7 in Science, “brings multiple pieces of the puzzle together,” says neuroscientist Teresa Hastings of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The finding also hints at a potential treatment for the estimated 10 million people worldwide with Parkinson’s: Less cellular damage occurred when some of the neurons were treated early on with antioxidants, molecules that

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