APRIL 2009

                                                                                                                                                      29th April 2009 - New research


Results of a new Mayo Clinic study support an association between anemia experienced early in life and the development of Parkinson's disease many years later. The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Seattle on April 30th 2009. Anemia was significantly more common in Parkinson's Disease than in other people. For more information go to the
News release.

Anemia is largely due to insufficient hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood. The major constituent of hemoglobin is iron.  So if there is insufficient iron, there will be a lack of hemoglobin. For more information go to Anemia. Iron is also essential for the formation of L-dopa, whose deficiency causes Parkinson's Disease. The quantity of L-dopa formed rises and falls according to the amount of iron available. So when there is insufficient iron, there will be insufficient L-dopa. So rather than anemia increasing the likelihood of Parkinson's Disease, it is likely that insufficient iron increases the simultaneous likelihood of anemia and Parkinson's Disease. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


21st April 2009 - New research


Parkinsonism Related Disorders [2008] 14 (8) : 633-635 (Yust-Katz S, Tesler D, Treves TA, Melamed E, Djaldetti R.)
Complete abstract

Parkinson's Disease symptoms can initiate, develop or exist on one side, or more on one side rather than the other. The prevalence and what predicts one sided symptoms rather than the other in Parkinson's Disease have hardly been investigated. The aim of this study was to determine the rate of one sided symptoms in people with
Parkinson's Disease.

The dominant hand was recorded in each person, as well as any significant right-left differences in tremor, bradykinesia, and rigidity. Symptoms dominating on one side occurred in the vast majority (85%) of people with Parkinson's Disease. The initial symptoms appeared on the right side in 47% of the right-handed patients, and on the left side in 38% of the right-handed patients. The initial symptoms appeared on the left side in 52% of the left-handed patients, and on the right side in 36% of the left-handed patients. So Parkinson's Disease is characterised by symptoms being greater on either the right or left hand side. There was a trend towards symptom onset on the dominant side. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


16th April 2009 - New research


Behavioural brain research [2009] 197 (1) : 90-96 (Valastro B, Dekundy A, Danysz W, Quack G.)
Complete abstract

Prolonged use of L-dopa can eventually cause dyskinesia, which is involuntary movements. For more information go to dyskinesia. Researchers assessed whether dyskinesia can be reduced or rid using Creatine. Creatine is a natural supplement that helps to supply energy to muscles. For more information go to creatine.

They tested their theory on rats. Whilst L-Dopa treatment took place, there were significant reductions in abnormal involuntary movements in the creatine-supplemented group, without any worsening of Parkinson's Disease symptoms. The authors concluded that creatine helps to alleviate the dyskinesia that L-dopa can cause. Creatine can be taken as a supplement. However, it is normally made from substances found in the diet. The main food source is meat. Vegetables do not contain creatine. So vegetarians show lower levels of muscle creatine, which after taking creatine supplements, rise to higher levels than in meat-eaters.


15th April 2009 - New web site

New Young Onset Parkinson's Disease Web Site

The American Parkinson Disease Association's (APDA) National Young Onset Center has launched a new web site. APDA's National Young Onset Center and web site "were created especially to address the unique concerns of younger people with Parkinson's Disease, their family members, friends, and healthcare providers." For the web site go to the National Young Onset Center


13th April 2009 - New research


Journal of Occuppational and Environmental Hygiene [2009] 6(5) : 267-272 (Stampfer MJ.)
Complete abstract

Metal welding produces gaseous fumes that contain manganese, resulting in potential occupational exposure to welders. It has been claimed that occupational exposure among welders could increase the risk of Parkinson's Disease. The present study examines welding occupation and mortality from neurological disorders based on over four million men. There was found to be no evidence of an increase risk of
death in men with Parkinson's Disease among welders as compared with men with other occupations.

In fact the mortality rate in was less than normal. The same was true of Alzheimer's Disease and presenile dementia. Earlier research suggested that welding exposures could predispose people to an earlier onset of Parkinson's Disease. However, there was no evidence of an increased mortality rate associated with welding occupations among men younger than 65, while there was evidence of a lower death rate in Parkinson's disease among men age 65 years and older. The inconsistencies between this research and what was previously assumed might be due to this study only assessing the death rate among welders with Parkinson's Disease rather than the actual prevalence of Parkinson's Disease among welders.


10th April 2009 - New research


Movement Disorders [2008] 23 (11) : 1505-1515 (Lee MS, Shin BC, Kong JC, Ernst E.)
Complete abstract

Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating needles into specific points on the body for therapeutic purposes. For more information go to Acupuncture. The objective of this review was to assess the clinical evidence
for or against acupuncture as a means of treating  Parkinson's Disease.

The medical literature was assessed for clinical trials of acupuncture for Parkinson's Disease. Three clinical trials using acupuncture showed no effect. Six studies compared the use of acupuncture and conventional drugs against the use of only drugs. Only two out of six of these studies suggested a positive effect of scalp acupuncture. Two further clinical trials tested acupuncture versus no treatment. These studies also suggested beneficial effects of acupuncture. However, the results of the latter two types of trial failed to adequately control for non-specific effects. The authors conclude that the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating Parkinson's Disease is unconvincing.

A new study in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine has claimed that acupuncture combined with Madopar (which includes L-dopa) is more effective than Madopar alone.  For more information go to the Complete abstract


7th April 2009 - New research


Brain [2009] Mar 31 [Epub ahead of print] (Abe N, Fujii T, Hirayama K, Takeda A, Hosokai Y, Ishioka T, Nishio Y, Suzuki K, Itoyama Y, Takahashi S, Fukuda H, Mori E.)
Complete abstract

The medical literature has suggested that people with Parkinson's Disease have characteristic personality traits such as industriousness, seriousness and inflexibility. They have also been described as "honest", indicating that they
have a tendency not to deceive others.

These personality traits may be associated with dysfunction of specific brain regions affected by Parkinson's Disease. In the present study, researchers showed that most people with Parkinson's disease are "honest", and that this personality trait might be derived from dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex. People with Parkinson's disease had difficulty making deceptive responses when compared to healthy controls. This difficulty was significantly correlated with reduced function in part of the brain. The results are the first to demonstrate the greater honesty found in people with Parkinson's Disease and that it has a neurobiological basis.


3rd April 2009 - News release


The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsonís Research announced that it would make up to $6.5 million in total funding available under three new research programs : (1) one of them aims at understanding the "clinico-pathological correlates" of Parkinsonís disease using extensive clinical data and postmortem tissue from people with and without Parkinson's Disease. (2) Understanding LRRK2 Biology seeks aims at increasing understanding of the role of the gene LRRK2 in Parkinsonís Disease. (3) Postural Instability and Gait Disorders aims at clarifying the pathophysiology and biological correlates of posture and gait dysfunction. For more information go to the complete News release.

Working out correlates, which is what will be used in the first and third projects, merely means finding out what is associated with the symptoms rather than developing or assessing methods of treatment for Parkinson's Disease. The LRRK2 gene is only unusually associated with Parkinson's Disease, and so would not be relevant to most people with Parkinson's Disease.

INTERVIEW : Michael J.Fox's recent interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show concerning Parkinson's Disease  Video INTERVIEW : Michael J.Fox's recent interview on Larry King Live concerning Parkinson's Disease  Web site


1st April 2009 - History


In medieval China, during the Jin Dynasty, Zhang Zihe (AD 1151-1231), who was one of four Jin Dynasty medical experts reported a case of well progressed Parkinson's Disease in "Ru Men Shi Qin". He called it "wind shaking due to fright". Zhang Zihe described a 59 year old man called Ma, who was from the Xin stockade village. Zhang's observation accurately described Ma's tremor in the jaw, hands and feet. He wrote of his stiffness, and inability to perform common motor activities, and the loss of dexterity of finger movements. He described Ma as being open mouthed and having inexpressive facial features. He also noted mood changes with depression that resulted in a
suicide attempt. Due to tremulous hands Ma's attempt at hanging himself failed.

Ma's family left him and went out looking for medication because the disease was still progressing. His son inquired of Zhang about medication for his father. Zhang advocated diaphoresis (sweating) using Fangfeng Tongsheng San, then inducing vomiting, expelling wind, and promoting circulation of qi through herbs, and nourishing by food. After treatment for several months, Ma's condition improved. His feet were not as heavy as before. The tremor was less and he was able to walk and to hold a comb, towel, spoon and chopsticks. This case was recorded over 600 years earlier than those reported by James Parkinson, after whom Parkinson's Disease was eventually named.


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