Scientists have discovered a potential biological link between Parkinson's disease to Alzheimer's, according to a study published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.
University of Florida of Florida researchers say their findings could lead to targets for new treatment that combats both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as many other neurological disorders, according to a report on the study in Medical News Today
For the study, the researchers investigated a protein called tau that binds to microtubules in the brain — components that play an important part in cell processes — helping to support neuronal function. Tau is involved in neurological processes that switch protein enzymes on and off and regulate their function and activity.
But in some diseased brains, the tau protein can cause "clumps" or "tangles" to form that cause the cognitive impairments seen in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
By conducting a series of mammalian studies and tests of human brain tissue, the researchers discovered similar biological processes involving Tau that affect both brain conditions.
The researchers add that their findings have the potential to lead to new treatments for both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
"Until now, nobody has really understood what the overlap between Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease was, or if it were important," said Jada Lewis, associate professor of neuroscience at the Centre for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida. "Our study ties these diseases together in a unique way."