Redheads’ Gene May Be Missing Link Between Melanoma and Parkinson’s

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Researchers have long known that having either PD or melanoma heightens the chances of developing the other condition, but it’s been unclear exactly why. Results from the MJFF funded study, led by Xiqun Chen, MD, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, indicate that the MC1R gene variant, which is responsible for red hair and fair skin, may be to blame.

This gene dictates hair and skin coloring, that, when lighter, provides less protection from the sun and contributes to melanoma risk. The same gene also may impact the production of dopamine, the brain signaling chemical that’s lost in PD. In red-haired mice that have the MC1R gene variant, brain dopamine is decreased and dopamine brain cells are more sensitive to potentially damaging substances

To read more on this interesting discovery as posted on the Michael J Fox website, click here.