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Parkinson’s Found in Monkeys

Researchers from China’s Kunming Institute of Zoology have identified naturally occurring Parkinson's in a monkey -- the first time the condition has been observed in an animal other than a human.

The research team screened over 2,500 monkeys, finding Parkinson’s in one 10-year-old male monkey, who has now entered the history books.

The monkey exhibited all the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson’s such as tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement, while also responding positively to levodopa drug treatment.

Researchers also carried out a sequencing analysis of 11 known risk genes causing Parkinson’sand found that the monkey carried pathogenic mutations in PD-related genes. 

Researchers speculated that the mutations could have led to the condition in their published study.

Key Takeaways

Macaque Parkinson's

The study has shown that in addition to humans, monkeys can develop PD, with phenotypes and pathogenesis very similar to those of human patients.

This discovery suggests that Parkinson's is not unique to humans, and was possibly present in primates before we evolved. 

It also has provided a solid biological basis for the development of monkey models of Parkinson's, which will be critical for studies regarding early detection and treatment.

A variety of animals, such as worms, fruit flies, mice, monkeys, and zebrafish, are at the cornerstone of Parkinson's research, as these animals can imitate symptoms seen in humans and help researchers design better therapies.

Source: Li, Hao, et al. "A Naturally Occurring Parkinsonian Cynomolgus Monkey: From Phenotypes to Genes."

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