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Experts unearth genetic clues leading to Parkinson's disease

The results of a worldwide study into Parkinson's could help revolutionise how the degenerative disease is treated, experts have said.

The major study, part-funded by Parkinson's UK, looked at which variations in genes increase the risk of people developing the incurable brain condition.

Researchers looked at DNA from more than 100,000 people with and without the condition for the study.

They identified a further six sections of DNA to the 22 already known to increase the chance of a person having Parkinson's.

The findings could help scientists to find new pathways involved in brain cell death and lead to new ways to prevent and treat the condition.

Researchers said the new sections of DNA could now be studied to find how they contribute to the development of the Parkinson's.

Claire Bale, research communications manager at Parkinson's UK, which helped to fund the study, said: "We know people develop Parkinson's when nerve cells in their brain die.

"But we still don't have a complete picture of the genetic fingerprints that are putting people at higher risk of developing the condition.

"We're excited to see that this study has unearthed more genetic clues about who is at risk.

"The results could unearth new ways to tackle the condition, so we can stop the death of precious brain cells once and for all."

Last year Scots comedian Billy Connolly revealed he was being treated for early-stage Parkinson's.

He only discovered he had the disease after a chance encounter with an Australian fan who spotted him walking strangely.

The comedian said a Tasmanian doctor diagnosed him on the spot after seeing him walking through a hotel lobby in America.

The man approached Connolly and told him to see his doctor right away as his gait suggested he was showing early signs of the illness.

About 125,000 people in Britain have the disease.

The findings have been published in Nature Genetics.

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