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Parkinson's Disease Mouse Model Reveals Possible Genetic Cause

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered a gene mutation that may cause familial Parkinson's disease, reports HealthDay News. The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, is the first evidence that the LRRK2 gene regulates dopamine transmission and controls motor performance, and that a mutation in the gene changes its function. In a press release from Mount Sinai, the study's senior author, Zhenyu Yue, says that although it was clear that LRRK2 played a role in Parkinson's, researchers were stymied for lack of a suitable animal model with the mutated gene. For the study, Yue and his team used BACs to develop two mouse models with the normal or mutant LRRK2. The mice with the abnormal gene showed age-dependent reduction of dopamine. The researchers also showed that the mutated gene produces too much kinase activity in the brain, and are now studying whether the increased kinase activity accounts for the reduced dopamine levels.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.