A rare childhood disease may hold clues to treating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, a study has found.
Scientists analysing A-T disease, which leaves youngsters unable to walk by adolescence, have found new ways of understanding the more common neurodegenerative diseases, according to the report in the online journal 'Nature Neuroscience'.
Children born with A-T disease have mutations in both of their copies of the ATM gene and cannot make normal ATM protein, and experts at Rutgers University in New Jersey in the US hope their research will lead to new therapies for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Using mouse and human brain tissue studies, the US researchers found that without ATM, the levels of a regulatory protein known as EZH2 go up.
Looking through the characteristics of A-T disease in cells in tissue culture and in brain samples from both humans and mice with ATM mutation, they found that the increase in EZH2 was a major contributing factor to the neuromuscular problems caused by A-T.