Study identifies monkey with naturally occurring Parkinson's disease

BEIJING, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have identified naturally occurring Parkinson's disease (PD) in a monkey -- the first time the disease has been observed in an animal other than a human.

Researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences initially screened over 2,500 monkeys at a primate research center. After a preliminary screening procedure, 60 were selected as experimental subjects for further investigation, and spontaneous PD was identified in a 10-year-old male monkey.

The monkey exhibited all the hallmarks of PD patients, including all typical clinical PD symptoms, a positive response to PD drug treatment, and classic PD pathological changes.

Researchers also carried out a sequencing analysis of 11 known PD risk genes and found that the monkey carried pathogenic mutations in PD-related genes. Researchers speculated that the mutations could have led to the disease.

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

The study suggests that the path to generating PD may have developed before human beings evolved.

The research was published in the journal National Science Review.

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