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DECEMBER 2008

 

29th December 2008 - New research

IMMUNE CELLS IMPLICATED IN PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Journal of Clinical Investigation [2008] Dec 22 (Brochard V, Combadière B, Prigent A, Laouar Y, Perrin A, Beray-Berthat V, Bonduelle O, Alvarez-Fischer D, Callebert J, Launay JM, Duyckaerts C, Flavell RA, Hirsch EC, Hunot S.) [Epub ahead of print] Complete abstract

French and American researchers have made claims, supported by Parkinson's Disease organisations, that a type of immune system cell may facilitate the development of Parkinson's Disease, and that targeting part of the immune system with drugs could be a new way to treat the disease. They showed that certain types of immune cells (CD8+ and CD4+ T cells) but not B cells had invaded the post-mortem brains of people with Parkinson's Disease, and also in mice whose Parkinson's Disease had been created artificially using MPTP. They showed that in mice, the artificially created Parkinson's Disease symptoms were worse when there were insufficient immune cells.

The weakness in the claims being made is that even if these observations were correct, they would not demonstrate that Parkinson's Disease was caused by insufficiencies of the immune system. Conclusions have been made by the researchers based solely on tenuous associations between the immune system and Parkinson's Disease, and also based on observations only in mice that did not actually have Parkinson's Disease. The other obvious weakness in the claims being made are that dopaminergic drugs (such as L-dopa) can rid Parkinson's Disease symptoms very readily, despite having no effect at all on the immune system.

 

26th December 2008 - New research

INFANTILE PARKINSONISM

Journal Inherited Metabolic Diseases [2008] Dec 26; [Epub ahead of print] (Pons R.) Complete abstract

Parkinson's Disease is stereotypically assumed to be a medical disorder of old age. The average onset in some countries is the late 50's. So the average age of people with Parkinson's Disease in many countries is in the 60's or older. However, Parkinson's Disease can occur at any age. There are many people with Parkinson's Disease in their 40's, 30's and 20's. There are teenagers and even children with Parkinson's Disease. The first case of juvenile Parkinson's Disease was discovered over a century ago concerned a child who had all the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease who was only 3 years old.

Paediatric neurotransmitter diseases are a group of inherited genetic disorders attributable to a disturbance of neurotransmitter metabolism. Neurotransmitters are substances that initiate the various functions in the brain. Given their various functions, their disorders have a wide variety of manifestations, with physical movement dysfunction being the most prominent clinical feature. The severity of symptoms ranges from mild to severe. The genetic disorder of this kind most closely related to Parkinson's Disease is Tyrosine Hydroxylase Deficiency. For more information go to a Complete Review. Children with this medical disorder are severely disabled from infancy. They have a complete inability to produce L-dopa, a substance whose deficiency is the primary cause of  Parkinson's Disease. This is because Tyrosine Hydroxylase is a chemical that is naturally produced in the brain that is essential for the formation of L-dopa.

Genetic disorders, such as this, are usually examples of a medical disorder at its worst, because the entire biochemical function is completely dysfunctional. In this form of Infantile Parkinsonism there is a complete lack of Tyrosine Hydroxylase. However, in normal Parkinson's Disease, Tyrosine Hydroxylase is present, but the substances it needs to produce L-dopa are deficient. For more information go to the Biochemistry of Parkinson's Disease.

 

21st December 2008 - New research

PSYCHOSIS IN PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Drugs and Aging [2008] 25 (8) : 665-682 (Zahodne LB, Fernandez HH.) Complete abstract

Parkinson's Disease is primarily due to insufficient dopamine. In contrast, psychosis is believed to be due to an accumulation of dopamine. So biochemically, Parkinson's Disease and psychosis are almost opposites. Because of this, anti-psychotics can cause symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, and an excess of Parkinson's Disease drugs can cause symptoms of psychosis. Psychotic symptoms in Parkinson's disease are relatively common in later and more severe Parkinson's Disease. Besides creating a disturbance in patients' daily lives, there is a prominence of visual hallucinations and progression over time. The most common cause of psychosis in Parkinson's Disease has been the use (especially excessive use) of Parkinson's Disease drugs - particularly dopamine agonists.

Other risk factors discussed in the medical literature include older age, disease severity, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment, dementia and depression. Preliminary reports have also shown a potential relationship between deep brain stimulation surgery and Parkinson's Disease psychosis. When a reduction in Parkinson's Disease drugs to the lowest tolerated level does not improve psychosis, further intervention may be warranted. Several atypical antipsychotic agents (iclozapine, olanzapine) have been shown to be efficacious in reducing psychotic symptoms in Parkinson's Disease. However, they have only achieved this with adverse effects. Results from a clinical trial involving a large number of hallucinating Parkinson's Disease patients support the efficacy of rivastigmine.
 

                                                                                                                                                                                16th December 2008 - New review

AGENT ORANGE

Agent Orange is the name given to a herbicide used by the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War as a means of warfare. It got its name from the colour of the barrels it was stored in. It was mainly used to clear the dense jungle within which the opposing forces fought, and also often to destroy the enemy's crops. For more information go to Agent Orange.

It has been widely claimed that Agent Orange has caused a wide variety of medical disorders, including Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to Agent Orange and Parkinson's Disease. Vietnam veterans have detailed how they were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and that they subsequently developed Parkinson's Disease. Some herbicides have been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to the Toxic causes of Parkinson's Disease. So there would appear to be the potential for Agent Orange to cause Parkinson's Disease.

There have been over 300 published studies on the effects of Agent Orange, many of which detail its medical effects such as cancer, diabetes or severe birth defects. However, their biochemistry is very different from that of Parkinson's Disease. Out of the more than 300 studies concerning Agent Orange, none of them have ever shown that Agent Orange has caused Parkinson's Disease.

Claims of Agent Orange causing Parkinson's Disease have usually detailed how Parkinson's Disease was diagnosed many years after possible exposure to Agent Orange. However, with Parkinson's Disease, if somebody is affected by a toxin, they usually suffer the toxic effects at their worst soon after exposure to the toxin. Toxic effects usually then decline very gradually after the person is no longer exposed. So if Agent Orange caused the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, they would have initiated whilst in Vietnam - not decades later. Somebody could be exposed to Agent Orange and quite independently develop Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's Disease can occur in almost anyone without toxicity being the cause. For more information go to the Causes of Parkinson's Disease.

                                                                                                                                                     

12th December 2008 - News release

VACCINE FOR PARKINSON'S DISEASE

AFFiRiS has started pre-clinical development of a vaccine for Parkinson¹s Disease. The vaccine, known as PD01, targets alpha-synuclein - a substance whose accumulation is claimed to cause Parkinson's Disease because of cell damage. The same technology has already been used to develop vaccines for Alzheimer's Disease. The aim of the study is to prove efficacy and safety. The Chief Scientific Officer at AFFiRiS, said : "The great potential offered by our AFFITOME technology has been confirmed by external experts, who appraised our development of a Parkinson's vaccine for the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). Their assessment prompted the FFG to provide considerable financial support for this project." For more information go to the Complete article.

The weaknesses in the theory on which the method is reliant is that a lot of people with Parkinson's Disease do not accumulate alpha-synuclein. So there is none to get rid of. Alph-synuclein doesn't cause Parkinson's Disease either. Most people that have an accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the brain do not have Parkinson's Disease. Also, L-dopa can readily rid symptoms in most people without affecting alpha-synuclein, thereby proving that the ridding of alpha-synuclein in the brain is not needed in order to rid Parkinson's Disease.

 

6th December 2008 - New research

THE LIKELIHOOD OF TOXICITY CAUSING PARKINSON'S DISEASE

Journal of Agromedicine [2008] 13 (1) : 37-48 (Dhillon AS, Tarbutton GL, Levin JL, Plotkin GM, Lowry LK, Nalbone JT, Shepherd S.) Complete abstract

There are a number of toxic substances that are known to cause Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to Toxic causes of Parkinson's Disease. Toxicity can cause Parkinson's Disease on its own, or can make Parkinson's Disease more likely if combined with other factors. Toxicity can initiate Parkinson's Disease, and then lead to persistent Parkinson's Disease because of the after effect of drugs needed to treat it, even when the toxic effect has worn off. Toxicity can often be reversed by avoiding the toxic substance. However, with some toxins this can take years because the toxin can accumulate in the blood and in the brain. Toxicity is often claimed to be the main cause of Parkinson's Disease, but evidence indicates that toxicity causes Parkinson's Disease only in a minority of cases.

It has not previously been known how readily various toxins can cause Parkinson's Disease. This study evaluated the risk of causing Parkinson's Disease after exposure to a variety of toxins. Rotenone, a pesticide, was found to massively increase the risk of Parkinson's Disease, even when used when only during the past year doing gardening. Any use at all of rotenone in the past made Parkinson's Disease far more likely. Of those substances assessed, the next most likely to cause Parkinson's Disease were, in order : work in a paper / lumber mill, exposure to cadmium, past work in an electronics plant, insecticide applications to animal areas and agricultural processes, paraquat (the herbicide), exposure to fluorides (used in industry), and least of all, the use of chlorpyrifos products (insecticides). Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and fish intake were associated with a reduced risk.

 

1st December 2008 - New research

SCANNING METHODS GIVE CERTAINTY IN DIAGNOSING PARKINSON'S DISEASE

European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging [2008] Nov 27; [Epub ahead of print] (Eshuis SA, Jager PL, Maguire RP, Jonkman S, Dierckx RA, Leenders KL.) Complete abstract

Around 25% of people diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease are wrongly diagnosed. Very false ideas as to what the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease are, and the symptoms of many other medical disorders coinciding with Parkinson's Disease has made the accurate diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease a major problem. This is especially true in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease, because the original diagnosis of many people is based on very mild symptoms. There are two major scanning methods that are used to diagnose Parkinson's Disease : the SPECT scan a
nd the PET scan. Using these methods, the brain is scanned in order to assess the level of dopamine being formed. For more information go to the Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease.

This study assessed these two methods to see how reliable they were, and which of them was better. People were assessed who either had : mild Parkinson's Disease, severe Parkinson's Disease, or who didn't have Parkinson's Disease at all. Both scanning methods were able to accurately discriminate people who had Parkinson's Disease from those that didn't. When assessed in the most appropriate parts of the brain, the accuracy was found to be 100% for both methods. The results suggest that scanning should be a routine part of diagnosis. However, the high costs of carrying out scans for some people can make this method of diagnosis prohibitive.

 

 

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