Spraying stops pests from eating crops, however it may also contribute to a host of diseases. Most recently it has been linked to Parkinson's disease

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have shed new light on a link between Parkinson’s disease and two pesticides, which they hope will improve both prevention and treatment for the neurodegenerative disease.

At present fewer than five per cent of Parkinson’s cases are attributed to genetics while 95 per cent have unknown causes.

Now a team from the University of Missouri School of Medicine thinks toxins such as pesticides could play a part.

The scientists studied the molecular dysfunction that happens when proteins are exposed to enivironmental toxins such as rotenone and paraquat.

‘This study provides the evidence that oxidative stress, possibly due to sustained exposure to environmental toxins, may serve as a primary cause of Parkinson’s,’ said assistant professor Zezong Gu.

‘This helps us to unveil why many people, such as farmers exposed to pesticides, have an increased incidence of the disease.’

Scientists already knew that the disease was associated with oxidative stress, which is when electronically unstable atoms or molecules damage cells.

However, the latest study reveals how oxidative stress causes parkin, a protein responsible for regulating other proteins, to malfunction.

Assistant professor Gu and his team invented a new antibody that allowed them to detect how oxidative stress affected proteins when exposed to a variety of pesticides, including rotenone and paraquat.

They then demonstrated how oxidative stress caused parkin proteins to cluster together and malfunction, rather than performing normally by cleaning up damaged proteins.

‘This whole process progresses into Parkinson’s disease,’ Gu said.

‘We illustrated the molecular events that lead to the more common form of the disorder in the vast majority of cases with unknown causes.

‘Knowing this, we can find ways to correct, prevent and reduce the incidence of this disease.’

Roteone is used in the UK and the U.S however paraquat was banned in Europe in 2007.

The team hope to extend their investigation into preventive treatments and therapies through work at MU’s Center for Botanical Interaction Studies.

After Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder.

The condition affects around one million people in the U.S and 120,000 in the UK.

The latest study was published in the journal Molecular Neurodegeneration.

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