Scientists have discovered five new genes linked to Parkinson's disease, suggesting genetic factors play a bigger part than previously thought in people who develop the condition.
A global research team examined the DNA of 12,000 people with Parkinson's and more than 21,000 healthy subjects in a bid to find genetic variations between the two.
Differences in a total of 11 genes were found to be a factor in susceptibility to the condition, including five which were previously not linked with Parkinson's, according to the report published in The Lancet medical journal online.
The study reported that the 20% of patients with the highest number of risk variants were more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson's than the 20% with the lowest number. An estimated 120,000 people in the UK suffer from the condition.
Professor Nick Wood, from the Institute of Neurology in London, who co-led the study, said: "This is the largest and most comprehensive study to date of the role that common genetic factors play in Parkinson's. Discovering five new genes is an exciting step forward and will help us understand more about why and how nerve cells die."