Woerman Discovers that Parkinson’s Mutation May Prevent Another Neurodegenerative Disease

Amanda Woerman

Amanda Woerman has discovered that a mutation in the misfolding protein that causes Parkinson’s disease offers protection against another fatal neurodegenerative disorder – multiple system atrophy (MSA), which is caused by the same misfolding protein.

The research findings, published Dec. 1, in PLOS Pathogens, move lead author Amanda Woerman one step closer toward her goal of using a personalized medicine approach to help people suffering from one of these devastating, difficult-to-diagnose diseases, for which few, if any, effective treatments currently exist.

“This lays the groundwork for our gene therapy strategy,” says Woerman, assistant professor of biology in the UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences. “Our results tell us that a single change in the genome can have a protective effect against MSA.”

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