A team at the University of Bedfordshire can identify the contribution of different elements inside a single brain cell which are responsible for the development of Parkinson's disease.
Dr Bushra Ahmed and a group of research students identified that Parkinson's sufferers' brain cells, or neurons, are dying. This is because the neurons in the brain's movement-control region cannot detoxify the harmful substances produced during metabolic reactions. The next step is to protect a cell from death, which may ultimately lead to discovering a cure.
During Dr Ahmed's research it was found that Parkinson's sufferers' neurons are overloaded with excessive everyday toxic by-products. These by-products are harmlessly managed in a healthy individual, but Parkinson's sufferers' neurons are damaged when they meet them. The process is known as Oxidative Stress.
It is the Oxidative Stress which causes Parkinson's sufferers' brain cells to die, and this leads to messages that control movement and balance to be disrupted.
The team distinguished the damaging connectionafter creating specific neurons that make dopamine - the happy hormone - with stem cell technology.
Dr Ahmed, from the Department of Life Sciences, said: "This is a great leap forward in the race for a cure, as we can now begin to develop methods of protecting these areas and preventing the damage synonymous with this condition."