Although there is no specific test for Parkinson’s disease, recent advances in a diagnostic imaging technique may help doctors identify high risk patients even before the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear. It may also serve as a tool to monitor disease progression. Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease where there is a gradual progressive loss of dopamine nerve cells (dopaminergic neurons) in the brain. Currently Parkinson’s disease is identified by a clinical diagnosis where the medical history and clinical presentation allows a doctor to reach the diagnosis. However, the new diagnostic technique may allow for conclusive diagnosis and even help prevent misdiagnosis of the disease.
Epidemiological studies over the past 50 years have shown a lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease among cigarette smokers. Although this apparent neuroprotective benefit of cigarette smoking has been known for a while, be it due to nicotine or the scores of other chemicals in cigarettes, the mechanism has been poorly understood and the therapeutic implications yet to be taken advantage of in the development of new Parkinson’s disease drugs. The main concern was whether this epidemiological finding was just a coincidence, which although unlikely, had not been clinically verified until the recent years. A new research study conducted at Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris, France has confirmed the potential benefit of nicotine in Parkinson’s disease by its action on a specific type of receptor on neurons.
Parkinson’s disease or PD is a neurodegenerative disease which means that nervous dysfunction is gradual and progressive. In other words, it develops slowly and gets worse over time. Most PD patients only discover the condition once signs and symptoms, usually those affecting movement, become obvious and affect daily functioning to a level that they need to seek medical advice. However, there are methods to diagnose Parkinson’s disease in the early stages when a person has no signs or symptoms (asymptomatic) or when it is too mild to be evident either to the patient or doctor. These diagnostic tests should be conducted routinely on patients who are possibly at risk, like those with a familial history. Screening, however, is not as simple as with other conditions as familial Parkinson’s disease accounts for only a small number [… Read More]
Stem cell therapy is growing in popularity globally particularly for neurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Clinics offering stem cell therapy are now accessible globally and with costant advancements in stem cell technology, there is significant hope that it will be the ‘magic bullet’ in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. However, to date there is no reliable evidence to suggest that any available stem cell therapy can cure Parkinson’s disease. This, however, does not mean that stem cell therapy cannot offer some improvement in the condition.
An exciting new discovery on a genetic mutation that appears to be associated with Parkinson’s disease once again brings hope to some PD patients. The gene, known as VPS35, was identified in a large Swiss family with a history of Parkinson’s disease. While this may not be applicable for every case of Parkinson’s disease, it does open up possibilities about further understanding the genetic mechanisms related to certain cases where there is a strong family history of PD.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain where there is progressive depletion of dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra, located in the brain. Stem cell therapy may possibly offer a solution as it aims at treating this disease by growing new cells to replace the older degenerated ones.