Onderzoek door Professor Jeffrey Vance, van de Duke University in North Carolina, heeft duidelijker gemaakt hoe roken het ontstaan van Parkinson en Alzheimer kan remmen of zelfs voorkomen.
Er is blijkbaar een gen aanwezig in iedere cel van ons lichaam dat een giftige stof aanmaakt die op de lange duur de hersencellen aantast. Componenten uit de rook (NIET de nicotine!) van sigaretten remmen de activiteit van dit gen waardoor deze giftige stoffen, en dus deze twee hersenziektes, niet zo makkelijk ontstaan.
De medicus is geschokt: “It really is ironic that something good might ultimately come out of smoking“.
Maar dat wisten wij al langer…
The medical world recently discovered that cigarette smoke decreases the risk of getting the degenerative neurological condition – but the genes responsible were a mystery.
US geneticist Professor Jeffrey Vance, from Duke University in North Carolina, has told the International Congress of Human Genetics in Brisbane he has found a gene that helps explain the link.
The gene – known as NOS2A – is found in every cell of the body and is responsible for the production of nitric oxide.
If too much is produced brain cells can die, leading to neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Prof Vance and his team realised that while everyone has this gene, in smokers it appeared to be “turned down”, limiting cell death and ultimately disease.
“We think that something in smoke keeps the level of the NOS2A down so cells don’t produce nitric oxide, which decreases cell damage,” he told AAP.
The researcher was not sure why this was but said the team would look closer at this area of DNA to try to better understand the link.
“It really is ironic that something good might ultimately come out of smoking,” Prof Vance said.
“It is definitely a window of opportunity that we are working on.”
But the main focus on his project was on further understanding Parkinson’s disease, which affects about 40,000 Australians, most aged over 60.
The cause is unknown and while there are treatments available including surgery and medication to replace the missing chemical dopamine, these have a limited effect.
“The other problem is that these things are not curing anything, only treating the symptoms while the process is still going on,” Prof Vance said.
The Age (Australië)