MARCH 2009


31st March 2009 - New research


Journal of Neurology [2009] (Kalf JG, de Swart BJ, Borm GF, Bloem BR, Munneke M.)
Complete abstract

Drooling (sialorrhea) is when saliva flows outside the mouth. It is usually caused by excess production of saliva by the salivary glands, or problems with swallowing. For more information go to Drooling. Drooling is a frequently reported symptom in people with Parkinson's Disease. However, exactly how common drooling is in Parkinson's
Disease is not known.

Although it is often suggested that it is part of Parkinson's Disease, in many people it occurs no more than it does in anyone else. The aim of this study was to systematically review the prevalence of drooling in Parkinson's Disease. It was found that drooling occurred in just over half (56%) of people with Parkinson's Disease. In those people that did not have Parkinson's Disease  it occurred in only 1 in 7 people (14%). So drooling was four times more likely in Parkinson's Disease, but still did not occur in nearly half of patients. In a quarter (22%-26%) of people with Parkinson's Disease, drooling appears to be a frequently occurring problem. It becomes more likely as Parkinson's Disease gets worse.


27th March 2009 - News release


There are a variety of toxins known to be able to cause symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to Toxic causes of Parkinson's Disease. Emergency workers can be dangerously subjected to some of these toxins. In the U.S.A., in the state of Indiana, a Senate Bill has been overwhelmingly approved that would require Parkinson's Disease to be treated as a line-of-duty disability under an emergency responder's pension and disability plan, entitling them to greater benefits. The overwhelming  approval makes it likely that such legislation will become far more widespread. The bill was spearheaded by fire fighter Gary Coons who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease whilst only 33. Gary Coons had been campaigning continuously. For more, see Firefighters with Parkinsons.

The chances of anyone having Parkinson's Disease at that age are less than 1 in 100,000, making it a rare medical disorder, and therefore more likely to be the result of unusual circumstances.  Gary Coons was the lead investigator of a large paint warehouse fire that caused him to be seriously exposed to known toxic causes of Parkinson's Disease without being given sufficient protective equipment. Toxicity is a probable cause when the Parkinson’s symptoms develop rapidly after a probable chemical exposure. For more information go to the complete News release. Viartis provided a comprehensive review of toxic causes of Parkinson's Disease in order to assist his application.


24th March 2009 - New research


Science [2009] Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print] (Gradinaru V, Mogri M, Thompson KR, Henderson JM, Deisseroth K.)  
Complete abstract

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
is a method of treating Parkinson's Disease that involves the use of electrodes that are implanted into the brain and connected to a small electrical device that can be externally programmed. DBS is able to reduce the need for Parkinson's Disease drugs. For more information go to Deep brain stimulation. It has always been uncertain as to how DBS has such a strong effect on Parkinson's Disease. Researchers used light to illuminate how the treatment works. They had suspected that brain cells are stimulated or calmed, leading to reduced Parkinson's Disease symptoms. Yet when they tried every type of brain cell they found that DBS had no direct effect on them.

It was instead found that the effect occurs, not by stimulating cells, but by stimulating axons.  Axons are what connect nerve cells to other nerve cells, as can be seen in the diagram. Axons can be more than a metre (several feet) in length. For more information go to Axons. For more information go to the complete News report. The effect of artificially stimulating brain cells can wear off in time, but so can artificially stimulating axons as it is now known occurs with DBS.


20th March 2009 - New research


Science [2009] 323 (5921) : 1578 - 1582 (Romulo Fuentes, Per Petersson, William B.Siesser, Marc G.Caron, Miguel A.L.Nicolelis)  
Complete abstract

Researchers have found that electrical stimulation of the spinal cord restores movement in mice who have been depleted of dopamine pharmacologically, and in chronic 6-hydroxydopamine–lesioned rats. Both of these conditions simulate Parkinson's Disease.

The functional recovery was paralleled by a disruption of aberrant low-frequency corticostriatal oscillations, leading to the emergence of neuronal activity patterns that resemble the state normally preceding spontaneous initiation of movement. The researchers are therefore suggesting that the method may become an effective means of treating Parkinson's Disease. The method appears to use similar principles and methods as those used with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). As with Deep Brain Stimulation it would have to be used continuously. The researchers anticipate that the device will be similar to those already used to treat chronic pain. They use small leads that are implanted over the spinal cord and connected to a portable generator. For more information go to the complete News report.


18th March 2009 - New research


American Journal of Epidemiology [2009] Mar 6 [Epub ahead of print] (Costello S, Cockburn M, Bronstein J, Zhang X, Ritz B.)
Complete abstract

It is usually assumed that certain pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson's Disease in agricultural workers. However, it has been shown that even people tending to their own gardens can be affected.

Researchers have also found that merely exposure in the vicinity of the home can greatly increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson's Disease. Exposure to the pesticides maneb and paraquat within 500m of the home increased the risk of Parkinson's Disease by 75%. People who were younger than 60 years old at the time of diagnosis were at a much higher risk. In those people, the risk more than doubled (2.27 times)  when exposed to either maneb or paraquat alone, and more than quadrupled (4.17 times) when exposed to both of these pesticides in combination.

                                                                                                                                                  16th March 2009 - New research


Neurogenetics [2009] Mar 13. [Epub ahead of print] (Bar-Shira A, Hutter CM, Giladi N, Zabetian CP, Orr-Urtreger A.)
Complete abstract

It is often claimed that Parkinson's Disease was discovered in 1817 by James Parkinson. However, there have been descriptions and treatments of Parkinson's Disease since ancient times. For more information go to the History of Parkinson's Disease.

There is a genetic mutation called LRRK2 G2019S that increases the likelihood of Parkinson's Disease. It is most common amongst Ashkenazi Jews. Ashkenazi Jews descend from Jews in medieval Germany. It was found that Ashkenazi Jews who had Parkinson's Disease due to this genetic mutation had a common ancestor who lived nearly 2000 years ago. Their ancestor, who would have probably had Parkinson's Disease, lived approximately 1,830 (1,560-2,160) years ago, around the second century A.D., after the second Jewish Diaspora. At that time, Israel was still under Roman rule. Genetic disorders are usually acquired by one person at some point, and are then inherited by their descendents for ever more. So some people have Parkinson's Disease because of somebody who lived over a thousand years ago.  For more information go to Genetic causes of Parkinson's Disease.


14th March 2009 - New research


Journal of Neurology [2009] Mar 13. [Epub ahead of print] (Wolz M, Kaminsky A, Löhle M, Koch R, Storch A, Reichmann H.)
Complete abstract

There is an increased consumption of chocolate in people with Parkinson's Disease. Consumption of non-chocolate sweets was no different from the consumption of other people. The increase in chocolate consumption was not related to the level of depression. Chocolate contains high contents of biogenic amines. Biogenic amines include substances that the brain produces in order to regulate or stimulate brain function. For more information
go to Biogenic amines.

Chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are adenosine antagonists. Adenosine antagonists make L-dopa and dopamine more active. For more information go to Adenosine antagonists. So it seems that some people with Parkinson's Disease are unconsciously using chocolate to increase their dopamine activity. Due to its chemistry, and people claiming it has reduced their symptoms, researchers have recently suggested that the effect of chocolate be assessed therapeutically in Parkinson's Disease. Istradefylline, another adenosine antagonist, has already been shown to have effect in Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to the Complete abstract.


12th March 2009 - New clinical study


The Google co-founder is to spend millions of dollars on a genetic study of Parkinson’s Disease after learning that he has a mutation that confers a high risk of Parkinson's Disease. The programme will invite 10,000 Parkinson’s Disease patients to have their DNA analysed in order to investigate inherited and environmental factors that contribute to the disease and to advance research into new treatments. Unusually, patients will have to pay to participate in the study. However, 23andMe will be charging only $25 rather than the $399 it normally charges to carry out the DNA scans.

The Google co-founder is married to the 23andMe co-founder. For more information go to the News report. People can participate in the study via the Michael J.Fox Foundation. The present knowledge of genetics in Parkinson's Disease is that most people do not inherit Parkinson's Disease. However, there are a small minority of people who have genetic mutations that incline them towards Parkinson's Disease. For more information go to Genetic causes of Parkinson's Disease.


10th March 2009 - New research


Archives of Neurology [2009] 66 (5) (Parkinson Study Group CALM Cohort Investigators) Complete abstract

Pramipexole (Mirapex) is a dopamine agonist. Dopamine agonists are drugs that mimic dopamine by stimulating the dopamine receptors. For more information go to Pramipexole. The purpose of this study was to compare the long term effect of starting with Pramipexole (Mirapex) against starting with the use of L-dopa. On the Activities of Daily Living Scale, the scores were similar. Motor complications (wearing off, on-off effects, or dyskinesias) were more common in people using L-dopa. Disabling dyskinesias were uncommon in both groups. Sleepiness was significantly worse in the Pramipexole group.

People starting off with Pramipexole were more likely to experience edema (swelling from excess fluid). On the standard Parkinson's Disease symptom score (the UPDRS) there was little difference between the two groups. After six years, most patients were taking a combination of drugs, with over 90% taking L-dopa. Of those who started on Pramipexole, 84% still continued with the use of Pramipexole. This study appears to have only assessed measures largely favourable to Pramipexole. It did not report the unusual adverse effects of Pramipexole that can include compulsive gambling, hypersexuality, and overeating, and also the other varied side effects. For more information go to Pramipexole.


9th March 2009 - New review


Studies claiming a "breakthrough" in Parkinson's Disease have described methods as being successful despite only ever having been carried out on rats and mice - a fact that is often barely mentioned in press releases. Some "breakthroughs" in Parkinson's Disease have actually involved fruit flies or worms news report.

Although rats and mice that are studied did not have Parkinson's Disease, they have been claimed by researchers to be cured or largely rid of Parkinson's Disease. Their "Parkinson's Disease" has instead been chemically induced. The weight of a human is about 100 times that of a mouse or rat, so the dosages are not comparable. Side effects that would be apparent in humans are often unnoticeable in mice and rats. Given that most drugs eventually cause an opposite after effect, the results of what are usually short term studies are often meaningless. Consequently, what is described as a "breakthrough" using rats or mice, inevitably turns out to be useless when eventually tested in people that actually do have Parkinson's Disease.

However, animals can still get Parkinson's Disease, because the biochemistry of many animals is little different from that of humans. It could occur in numerous animals such as dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, monkeys. All mammals have to produce dopamine. So they are able to become deficient in dopamine, just as humans are, and thereby develop Parkinson's Disease. Some species don't live long enough for it to commonly occur. In some animals it can appear different from how it does in humans, or is not so apparent, or not so common.


4th March 2009 - New research


Rheumatology International [2008] 28 (12) : 1205-1209 (Bezza A, Ouzzif Z, Naji H, Achemlal L, Mounach A, Nouijai M, Bourazza A, Mossadeq R, El Maghraoui A.)  Complete abstract

In Osteoporosis, the density of bone decreases and so makes people prone to getting bone fractures. For more information go to Osteoporosis. One in six people (17%) with Parkinson's Disease were found to have already developed Osteoporosis. Over half of all people (54%) with Parkinson's Disease have been found to have osteopenia, which is low bone density, as is shown on the right hand photograph. Osteopenia often develops in to
Osteoporosis. For more information go to Osteopenia

Due to the proneness to falling that some people with Parkinson's Disease have, the risk of fractures becomes even greater in those people that also have Osteoporosis. The biochemistry of Parkinson's Disease and Osteoporosis do not coincide at all. Yet Osteoporosis was found to be related to the severity of Parkinson's Disease. It also becomes more likely with age. It is also related to low calcium intake, and insufficient sun exposure. Sun exposure is a source of vitamin D, which is essential for bone formation. It is possible to improve bone formation by increasing calcium intake (such as from milk products), and by taking a supplement that includes vitamin D.


2nd March 2009 - New research


Nature [2009] advance online publication 1 March 2009 ( Knut Woltjen, Iacovos P. Michael, Paria Mohseni1, Ridham Desai1, Maria Mileikovsky, Riikka Hämäläinen, Rebecca Cowling, Wei Wang, Pentao Liu, Marina Gertsenstein, Keisuke Kaji, Hoon-Ki Sung, Andras Nagy) Complete abstract

Sinai Hospital’s Dr.Nagy and his team have discovered a new method of generating stem cells that does not require embryos as starting points and that "could be used to generate cells from many adult tissues such as a patient’s own skin cells." Their method does not require viruses, and so "overcomes a hurdle for the future of safe, personalized stem cell therapies in humans". They claim that "This research is a huge step forward on the path to new stem cell-based therapies" and that this could lead to cures for illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. For more information go to the News release.

However, numerous stem cell operations in Parkinson's Disease have failed to rid anyone of Parkinson's Disease. The failings would not be affected by this new method. The latest of these caused the patient to end up worse than before the stem cell operation. For more information go to Stem cell surgery fails to rid Parkinson's Disease. The use of stem cell surgery is based on the false assumption that there is massive cell loss in Parkinson's Disease, yet not a single study in the entire medical literature has ever shown that there is massive cell loss in Parkinson's Disease. So although they are overcoming a technical and ethical problem,  they lack a sound scientific basis.




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