By Elise Viebeck - 07/05/12 09:32 PM EDT
Experts said this represents a step forward because researchers have struggled to find ways to target different forms of the disease.
A portion of the research involved reprogramming patients' skin cells into neurons — cells specific to the nervous system that are destroyed by Parkinson's — and examining the neurons under different conditions.
Margaret Sutherland, an NIH program director, praised the study's insights.
"These findings suggest new opportunities for clinical trials of Parkinson's disease, in which cell reprogramming technology could be used to identify the patients most likely to respond to a particular intervention," she said in a statement.
The study was led by Ole Isacson, a professor of neurology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.