Parkinson’s disease is another neurological disease that affects people in the prime of their life with disabling tremors, rigidity, postural imbalance, and masked facial expression. Over one million US citizens are affected by this disease, one of the most recognizable being the actor Michael J. Fox. Parkinson’s disease is both chronic (persists over a long period of time) and progressive (symptoms grow worse over time). Although some people become severely disabled, others experience only minor motor disruptions. Tremor is the major symptom for some patients, while for others tremor is only a minor complaint and other symptoms are more troublesome. No one can predict which symptoms will affect an individual patient, and the intensity of the symptoms also varies from person to person.
Current research is similar to that of Alzheimer’s disease attempting to stop the cellular pathology at a fundamental level. This would be antibodies to the “Lewy Body” of Parkinson’s disease and stem cell therapy to replace damaged neurons. Medications are designed to replace the natural flow of Dopamine (an important neurotransmitter or messenger in the brain) and other neurotransmitters impaired by the disease. We have participated in several research projects which have brought new “dopamine agonists” to market which assist patients.
In addition, a recent area of interest is finding a new type of antipsychotic medication which blocks the hallucinations common to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease without making the motor symptoms worse. Our goal is to find treatments which reverse the symptoms and disability of this motor and cognitive system disease. This will mean not only treating the disease but finding ways to diagnose Parkinson’s disease early enough to prevent the disease from developing. We will attempt to block Parkinson’s disease in people at risk for developing this horrible degenerative problem.
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