Genetics and pesticide exposure ‘double hit’ might underlie Parkinson’s (for some)

This week for BioNews, I report on a thorough and thoroughly cool study that weaved its way down a biological pathway from exposure to pesticides to the death of nerve cells linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers found how a genetic mutation can interact with toxins produced from pesticides to disrupt the functioning of neurons involved in movement and coordination. The mutation lies in a gene encoding a protein that is the main ingredient of Lewy bodies — the clumps found among neurons of people with Parkinson’s or certain forms of dementia.

They looked at the problem from all sorts of angles and involved patient-derived lines of induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells and a lot of tweaking, coming to firm causal conclusions about a very particular interaction between genetics and environmental factors.

Have a read.