a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 584.1 

Guest: Dr. Robert Nussbaum, Chief, Genetics Lab, Human Genome Project, NIH 

Topic: Genetic cause for Parkinson's 

Reporter: Aaron Cohen 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: A genetic cause for Parkinson's...Health on the Hill is next... 

SPOT: For 15 years, the National Emergency Medicine Association has worked against stroke, heart disease and trauma. Join the effort, call 800-332-6362.  

NEMA: A breakthrough on what causes many cases of Parkinson's disease... Aaron Cohen has Health on the Hill.... 

COHEN: Scientists on two continents studied members of Greek and Italian families who were struck early in life with the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Research led to a gene called Alpha Synuclein, a rogue protein that clumps with other proteins and destroys healthy brain cells. Dr. Robert Nussbaum, who heads the genetic lab at the Human Genome Research Institute, says the discovery is very important... 

NUSSBAUM: I think the significance really is that, up until now, we have not had even a single cause for what we call Parkinson's disease. We have known that it's possible to induce something that looks like Parkinson's disease, through using various toxic agents...but to actually identify a cause for the real Parkinson's disease that occurs in people...we've never had that before.  

COHEN: Until recently, Doctor Nussbaum says scientists always believed the cause of Parkinson's was environmental, not inherited...as he now believes. Nussbaum says understanding the mechanics of Parkinson's, as well as Alzheimer's, may eventually lead scientists to find better treatments for both diseases. For Health on the Hill...I'm Aaron Cohen.  

NEMA: More genetic advances on another neuro-killer....Alzheimer's...in an upcoming segment. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.