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Flu link to brain disease

Monday July 23rd, 2012

Children who contract a severe bout of flu may face an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, researchers have reported.

Being a soldier working in tanks may also increase risk, researchers say.

A study involving some 400 people with Parkinson's disease has found experience of severe flu linked to a doubled risk of developing the disease.

But contracting measles as a child reduced the risk by 35 per cent.

Researchers compared the patients in British Columbia, Canada, with 400 healthy people.

The researchers also tested for the effect of being exposed to vibrating machinery during working.

They found that low intensity vibrations, such as found on construction machinery, were linked to a reduced risk of disease.

But there was a possible link to increased risk from high intensity machinery - such as snowmobiles, military tanks or high speed boats.

The findings have been reported in the journals Movement Disorders and the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Researcher Anne Harris, of the University of British Columbia, said: "There are no cures or prevention programs for Parkinson's, in part because we still don't understand what triggers it in some people and not others.

"This kind of painstaking epidemiological detective work is crucial in identifying the mechanisms that might be at work, allowing the development of effective prevention strategies."

Meanwhile Austrian researchers have reported the discovery of a chemical that could help early diagnosis of the disease.

Researchers at the Clinical Institute of Neurology at the MedUni Vienna say they have found an antibody that could demonstrate changes associated with the disease in a protein called alpha-synuclein.

Some 200 patients are now involved in a study of the finding, revealed in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.

Researcher Gabor Kovacs said: "It is still not possible to say whether or not we will be able to diagnose Parkinson’s from a blood test, but this discovery certainly represents a major step in that direction.”

An antibody with high reactivity for disease-associated alpha-synuclein reveals extensive brain pathology. G. G. Kovacs, U. Wagner, B. Dumont, M. Pikkarainen, A. Osman, N. Streichenberger, I. Leisser, J. Verchere, T. Baron, I. Alafuzoff, H. Budka, A. Perret-Liaudet, I. Lachmann. Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Jul; 124(1):37-50. doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0964-xISBN.

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | Flu & Viruses | North America

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