Professor Byron Jones Awarded $2.6 Million to Study Toxicity of the Herbicide Paraquat on the Brain

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 A $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will allow Dr. Byron Jones and his collaborators to further investigate if Paraquat, a weed killer, poses risks for brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
A $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will allow Dr. Byron Jones and his collaborators to further investigate if Paraquat, a weed killer, poses risks for brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Paraquat is a weed killer used extensively in agriculture in the United States and other parts of the world. It is suspected to increase risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.
Byron Jones, PhD, and his research team are using newly awarded funds to investigate individual toxicity to the chemical on certain areas of the brain.

Dr. Jonesa professor in the Department of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant totaling $2.6 million from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health.

The award will be used to support a project titled, “Neural Toxicity of Paraquat Is Related to Iron Regulation in the Midbrain,” and will be distributed over five years.

“The evidence for this risk from Paraquat is not clear and most likely stems from the fact that not all individuals are equally at risk,” said Dr. Jones. “Part of this difference in susceptibility is likely in the genetic makeup of the individual. My colleagues and I are using a mouse model to track down the genes that confer this differential susceptibility. We hope to use our findings to help identify those humans who would be at increased risk for disease if exposed to Paraquat.”

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is committed to discovering how the environment affects individuals in order to promote healthier living. For more information, visit www.niehs.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.