Public Release: 

New studies link the environment to Parkinson's disease

Research will open new possibilities for intervention and prevention

The Parkinson's Institute

Sunnyvale, CA - April 5, 2007 - The Parkinson's Institute today announced that new findings concerning the role of environmental factors in the development of Parkinson's disease will be reported at Asilomar (Pacific Grove, CA) as part of the final meeting of the Collaborative Centers for Parkinson's Disease Environmental Research (CCPDER). This collaborative research effort, sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), brings together investigators from Emory University, the University of California Los Angeles and The Parkinson's Institute, which has served as the coordinating center for the study.

Highlights of the research include:

  • The role of pesticides (eg. Paraquat and Dieldrin) as potential risk factors for Parkinson's disease, a role suggested by both epidemiological statistics and laboratory evidence.

  • The threat of toxic agents to damage neurons by causing the accumulation of harmful proteins.

  • Intraneuronal protein aggregates as markers of Parkinson's pathology, based on work carried out at The Parkinson's Institute indicating that these aggregates could be formed as a consequence of toxic exposure.

  • The importance of targeting a specific protein, alpha-synuclein, in order to achieve neuroprotection in Parkinson's

  • The role of inflammation in the development of Parkinson's disease and the possibility that anti-inflammatory drugs could be beneficial to patients.

  • The possibility that nicotine may act as a neuroprotective agent.

"Our collaboration with Emory University and UCLA has allowed us to make great strives in identifying environmental factors involved in the development of Parkinson's disease," said Donato A. Di Monte, M.D., director of basic research at The Parkinson's Institute. "The findings that will be discussed at Asilomar will help us better understand the disease process, intervene earlier with neuroprotective treatment and work on preventive measures against Parkinson's disease risk factors."


The CCPDER initiative began under the auspices of NIEHS in 2002. NIEHS, one of 12 components of the National Institutes of Health, supports research to understand and combat the effects of the environment on human health. For more information on environmental health topics, please visit

About The Parkinson's Institute

Founded in 1988, The Parkinson's Institute is the only independent nonprofit organization that provides clinical research, basic research, clinical trials and a comprehensive patient care center, all under one roof. The Institute's focus is on finding the cause(s) and a cure for Parkinson's disease and providing the best possible care to those diagnosed with PD and related disorders. For more information about The Parkinson's Institute, please visit or call 408-734-2800.

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