News ArchivesRead News
New research to target air pollution as a potential trigger for Parkinson’s
Friday November 17, 2017
Van Andel Institute - Nov. 9, 2017 (GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.)—The Department of Defense has awarded a multi-institutional team of scientists a series of grants totaling $4.37 million to investigate the potential role of airborne pollutants as triggers of Parkinson’s disease via the nose.
“It increasingly appears that a complicated mix of biological and environmental factors contribute to Parkinson’s,” said study lead Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., director of VARI’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science. “Unraveling this tangled web will go a long way in helping us develop ways to evaluate an individual’s risk for the disease as well as developing therapies to prevent, slow or stop its onset and progress.”
To undertake the four-year study, Brundin has teamed up with collaborators Caleb Finch, Ph.D., the ARCO/F. Kieschnick Professor in the Neurobiology of Aging and University Professor at University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology; Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; and Todd Morgan, Ph.D., Research Professor of Gerontology also at the USC Leonard Davis School.
The project will be supported by three Department of Defense grants—$1.4 million to Brundin, $1.45 million to Finch and $1.5 million to Chen.
Finch and Morgan have previously shown that airborne particulates cause inflammation that spreads from the nose into the brain in disease models while Chen studies Parkinson’s disease incidence on a population-wide scale.
Together, they will investigate how long-term exposure to airborne particulates relates to Parkinson’s onset later in life. Increasing evidence suggests that inflammation in the nose, which is directly connected to the brain’s olfactory region, could be among the first triggers of the disease.
An estimated 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have problems with their sense of smell or entirely lose it in the years preceding their diagnosis.
“The nose is a direct gateway into the body and, in fact, it is one of first places we see evidence of Parkinson’s pathology in the form of abnormal alpha-synuclein proteins,” Brundin said. “From there, it appears that these proteins move from the olfactory bulb deeper into the brain, leaving a path a destruction that manifests as symptoms such as loss of sense of smell and, eventually, motor deficits.”
Environmental factors, such as pollution, are likely low-level contributors that are superimposed upon genetic influences and age, the greatest single risk factor for Parkinson’s. The team believes that younger people, particularly those born with low genetic risk, may be able to cope with nasal inflammation and live a long life without developing the disease. Other elements also play a role.
“At the same time, gender differences may also be a factor in the greater vulnerability of men to Parkinson’s,” Finch said.
After their initial studies, the team will explore whether anti-inflammatory medications may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s. They include the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, and an experimental anti-diabetic drug called MSDC-0160.
In 2005, Chen and his associates published evidence that ibuprofen may significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. MSDC-0160, meanwhile, has shown promise for slowing Parkinson’s progress in lab models of the disease, according to a 2016 study from Brundin’s lab.
They also plan to use the rigorous population-scale methods to compare groups of people who have lost their sense of smell in late adulthood versus those who have not. The clues found in their genetic profiles and health histories, including use of anti-inflammatory medications, may yield important correlations that the team can follow up in the lab, Chen said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for joined forces of basic and population scientists to search for the origins of Parkinson’s disease,” Chen said.
Between seven to 10 million people have Parkinson’s disease worldwide. Currently, there is no way to definitively diagnose the disease and no therapies that slow or stop its progression.
All medical decisions should be made in close consultation with a physician, including prolonged use of ibuprofen.
The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ Parkinson’s Research Program under Award Nos. W81XWH-17-1-0534, W81XWH-17-1-0535 and W81XWH-17-1-0536. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.
ABOUT VAN ANDEL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 360 scientists, educators and staff. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), VAI’s research division, is dedicated to determining the epigenetic, genetic, molecular and cellular origins of cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases and translating those findings into effective therapies. The Institute’s scientists work in onsite laboratories and participate in collaborative partnerships that span the globe. Learn more about Van Andel Institute or donate by visiting www.vai.org. 100% To Research, Discovery & Hope®
Beth Hinshaw Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 616.234.5519
Recent NewsJan 23 - January 23, 2018 News Update
Jan 16 - January 16, 2018 News Update
Jan 9 - January 9, 2018 News Update
Jan 2 - January 2, 2018 News Update
Dec 26 - December 26, 2017 News Update
Dec 19 - December 19, 2017 News Update
Dec 8 - New technique scours the genome for genes that combat disease
Dec 8 - Restless sleep may be an early sign of Parkinson's, dementia
Dec 1 - Defects in cell's 'waste disposal system' linked to Parkinson's
Dec 1 - Dual virtual reality/treadmill exercises promote brain plasticity in Parkinson's patients
Nov 17 - 'Moving Day' participant is not letting young-onset Parkinson's disease stop him
Nov 17 - Focused ultrasound shows promise for treating Parkinson's tremor
Nov 17 - New research to target air pollution as a potential trigger for Parkinson’s
Nov 17 - This device will let you feel what it's like to suffer from Parkinson's
Nov 10 - How does Parkinson's disease influence depression?
Nov 10 - House votes to repeal ObamaCare's Medicare cost-cutting board
Nov 10 - Microsoft shows off watch that quiets Parkinson's tremors
Nov 3 - Utah group battling Parkinson's disease with boxing
Nov 3 - UVA-LED STUDY EXAMINES POTENTIAL OF SOUND WAVES TO MANAGE PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Oct 27 - Herbicide's link to Parkinson's disease