Most cases of Parkinson's Disease (PD) are idiopathic, which simply means 'of no known cause'. But there are small groups in the population which are linked to a genetic cause of PD and the LRRK2 gene is the most prevalent.

Within these ethnic groups mutations in LRRK2 account for a much greater incidence of PD cases than the population in general - it is estimated changes in LRRK2 account up to 20 percent of PD cases in Ashkenazi Jews and 40 percent of PD cases in North African Arab Berbers. Other genetic changes in LRRK2 that increase the risk of PD have also been determined in Asian groups.

Recently, a large genetic study* of more than 24,500 people has found that Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel condition, and genetic forms of PD share variants of the LRRK2 gene - Parkinson's is also associated with inflammation and digestion problems. Given the shared gene variants between Crohn’s and familial and sporadic Parkinson’s, early identification of individuals at risk of developing Parkinson’s may be possible.  

LRRK2 is an emerging area of research which CPT is very interested in and therefore could offer both the potential of early diagnosis and importantly, intervention. 

CPT supported work in the area:

Monitoring alpha-synuclein oligomers and LRRK2 dimers to screen for novel disease modifying Parkinson’s drug therapies - Dr Javier Alegre-Abarrátegui, University of Oxford - click here to see the published paper.

Further reading:

*'Functional variants in the LRRK2 gene confer shared effects on risk for Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease' ~ Science Translational Medicine  10 Jan 2018

LRRK2 Trial Drug shows promising results with next phase planned ~ Fox Feed Blog December 2017