Unique genes involved in Lewy body dementia



The Lewy Body Society provided funds which contributed to this piece of research “Unique Genes involved in Lewy Body Dementia”

Unique genes involved in Lewy body dementia

A team of researchers from around the world has found that some genes play different roles in Lewy body dementia compared to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The discovery, published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics [http://hmg.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/06/27/hmg.ddu334.abstra…, has been made by an international team of researchers and was funded jointly by a collaboration between The Lewy Body Society and Parkinson’s UK. The study used tissue from over 1,000 brains donated for research to see if the genes involved in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s were also involved in Lewy body dementia.

What is Lewy body dementia?

Lewy body dementia is a type of dementia that is caused by the buildup of sticky protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, inside brain cells. The condition has similar symptoms to both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, such as problems with attention and thinking and visual hallucinations. People with Lewy body dementia may also develop motor symptoms that are common in Parkinson’s such as tremor (shaking) and stiffness. Like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the symptoms of Lewy body dementia also get worse over time. These similarities encouraged researchers to investigate if the same genes were involved in the 3 conditions.

Genes involved in Lewy body dementia

The genes involved in Lewy body dementia point towards a problem in the way brain cells break down waste – using a structure called the lysosome. This insight could open up new doors for research into treatment for Lewy body dementia and other conditions that affect the brain. Dr Jose Bras, Parkinson’s UK funded scientist, comments: “Changes in genes can help scientists understand what goes wrong in conditions like Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s and even help with diagnosis. This understanding is vital in allowing us to develop new and better treatments. Looking at what happens inside the brain is essential to understand human neurological conditions.”

This project was made possible by people donating their brains to research. You can find out more about donating your brain to the Parkinson’s UK brain bank and helping research into better treatments and a cure for dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s.