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Chemical from Soil Bacteria Shows Potential Neuron Toxicity; Has Possible Parkinson's Implications

A chemical produced by common soil bacteria may kill neurons that produce dopamine, according to an article authored by University of Alabama researchers publishing Oct. 6. Dopamine neuron demise leads to the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorder affecting some 1 million Americans.

The National Institutes of Health-sponsored research, publishing in the online open-access journal PLoS One, is preliminary, according to the UA scientists, but could shed light on those Parkinson’s cases with no known genetic component - which are the vast majority. Environmental triggers have been linked to Parkinson’s in previous studies.

“The data, so far, are seriously important, at best, and, at least, intriguing,” said Dr. Guy Caldwell, associate professor of biological sciences at The University of Alabama, the NIH grant recipient and co-author of the research. “By no means do we feel this is anything of a conclusive nature, yet.”

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