Graduate student Sarah Branch and Dr. Michael Beckstead’s research on Parkinson’s disease has been featured in Parkinson’s News Today.
Branch, the lead author in the study, worked on the project as part of her thesis.
The team identified physiologic changes in dopamine neurons in a key animal model of Parkinson’s known to display disease symptoms, the MitoPark mouse model.
“It’s a progressive model in that these changes don’t take place overnight,” Dr. Beckstead, the study’s senior author, said in a news release. “This makes it like the human disease, which is thought to be somewhere in the range of a 20-year process before symptoms become evident.”
The findings may lead to earlier identification of Parkinson’s in people and the start of disease treatments before irreparable damage is done.
They recently published a research paper in The Journal of Neuroscience, called “Dopaminergic Neurons Exhibit an Age-Dependent Decline in Electrophysiological Parameters in the MitoPark Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease.
“We don’t have any treatments right now that actually affect the disease process,” Dr. Beckstead said. “The reason we don’t have any is we don’t understand what’s going on in the early stages of this disease. Studies such as ours will help fill in those knowledge gaps.”
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