Genetic study may give the answer for age-related diseases

Researchers at the University of Southampton have identified a link between a particular gene and age-related diseases such as heart failure neuroblastomatosis and Parkinsons disease.

These diseases can affect an estimated 3. 7 of the population and cause the most common symptom of Parkinsons disease which is the loss of sleep. Longer term these diseases increase the risk of neurological diseases for example Alzheimers disease and schizophrenia.

A number of causes are possible causes of these diseases but there is no known genetic cause of the age-related diseases.

Known genetic and environmental factors that could potentially play a role include diseases such as cardiovascular diseases respiratory diseases osteoporosis diabetes or as a side effect from cancer treatment for example.

Dr. Adna Faim Ashley Hashem and her team have just identified the Helper 2B gene in patients with neuroblastomatosis a genetic syndrome that can pose a significant risk to the health of those affected.

Helper 2B is a protein that the cells rely on to help keep them alive confirming that it is an important target for several neuroblastomas.

Neuroblastomas are super aggressive slow-growing cells of the central nervous system comprising 1-2 of the total numbers patients with neuroblastomatosis.

They are categorized into three subtypes and account for around 60 of all diagnosed cases of neuroblastomas.

The most common type called super aggressive or early-onset form can occur before age 65 which is as old as the patient is eligible for the diagnostic tests that diagnose these new-onset neuroblastomas.

Prior to 18 years of age patients with early onset forms of neuroblastoma are diseased by the subtype their circadian clock normally aligns with.

In short that means younger people are more likely to develop neuroblastoma which signals the younger ones to not get older adequately.

However in a first step in our newly identified genes and circuity of tissues that are involved in stimulating Helper 2B we identified an in our patients a specific mechanism that activates helper 2B which promotes degeneration of hemilergy that leads to damage due to aggregation of brain tissue and spatial distances.

Dr. Adna Faim Ashley Hashem Professor of Experimental Cancer Research and director of the Cancer Cell Biology Core at the University of Southampton.