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Gene Mutation Linked to Early-Onset Parkinson’s Disease

Mutated GCH1 gene tied to 23 percent increased risk of Parkinson’s; symptoms five years earlier

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A gene mutation has been identified that could be associated with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the February issue of Neurobiology of Aging.

Auriel Willette, Ph.D., and Joseph Webb, from Iowa State University in Ames, compared 289 patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but not on medication, and 233 healthy individuals.

Overall, those with one mutated version of the guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase-1 (GCH1) gene had a 23 percent increased risk of Parkinson’s and developed disease symptoms an average of five years earlier. Age made a significant difference. Adults younger than 50 with the gene mutation had a 45 percent higher risk of the disease, while the mutation had a minimal effect on older adults, the study authors said.

“We want to have a more comprehensive understanding of what these genes related to Parkinson’s are doing at different points in someone’s lifetime,” Willette said in a university news release. “Then, with genetic testing we can determine the risk for illness based on someone’s age, gender, weight, and other intervening factors.”

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