Role of Survival of Motor Neuron Protein Apoptosis of Parkinsonís Disease

Douglas Kerr, Ph.D.
John Hopkins University, School of Medicine

Motor neuron protein (SMN) is mutated in spinal muscular atrophy, a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the death of spinal cord nerve cells. Dr. Douglas A. Kerr's team at John Hopkins in Baltimore has developed a viral vector system to deliver this protein to SMA animal models, and now has used the system in brains to try to protect brain cells from programed neuronal death (apoptosis). The hypothesis is that SMN may protect human neurons from such insults as PD. Such a discovery would strengthen the field's motive for finding either a biologic marker or another very early sign of disease onset.