JULY 2011


31st July 2011 - New review


The world's strangest cause of Parkinson's Disease occurs in the western Pacific Ocean, amongst the Chamorro people. The Chamorro live in the Mariana islands, which includes the U.S. territory of Guam. The symptoms of Parkinson's Disease occur alongside ALS and dementia. It is thought that the Chamorro people develop the symptoms by eating a species of Flying Fox called the Mariana Fruit Bat. The Mariana Fruit Bats consume large quantities of neurotoxic cycad seeds. As the number of Mariana Fruit Bats has declined so has the illness. Eating these bats is a centuries old tradition amongst the Chamorro people. The Chamorro consider it a culinary delicacy. Served at weddings, fiestas, and birthdays, the etiquette of bat-eating and preparation involves rinsing off the outside of the animal like you would a cucumber and then tossing it in to boiling water. The bats are then served whole in coconut milk and are consumed in their entirety. Meat, internal organs, fur, eyes, and wing membranes are all eaten. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


28th July 2011 - News release


People who abused methamphetamine or other amphetamine-like stimulants have been found to be more likely to develop Parkinsonís Disease. The researchers examined almost 300,000 hospital records from California covering 16 years. Patients admitted to hospital for methamphetamine or amphetamine-use disorders had a 76% higher risk of developing Parkinsonís Disease compared to those with no diagnosis. For more information go to the News release. Globally, methamphetamine and similar stimulants are the second most commonly used class of illicit drugs. For more information concerning methamphetamines click here.

It is claimed that the increased likelihood is due to the ability of methamphetamines to cause Parkinson's Disease, but no evidence has been provided of this. A previous study did not prove that methamphetamines had a clearly negative effect on dopamine. For more information go to the Complete abstract. In Parkinson's Disease, dopamine levels are low. This can not only cause the muscular symptoms characteristic of Parkinson's Disease, but can also incline somebody towards depression. So rather than methamphetamines causing Parkinson's Disease, the depression that can precede and be associated with Parkinson's Disease could make somebody more inclined to take  methamphetamines. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


26th July 2011 - New research


Movement Disorders [2011] 26 (2) : 320-323  (Chou KL, Koeppe RA, Bohnen NI.)  Complete abstract

Rhinorrhea is nasal discharge, commonly referred to as a runny nose. For more information go to Rhinorrhea. Although, nasal discharge is usually assumed to occur for a variety of reasons such as colds, flu or allergies, it is a common symptom in Parkinson's Disease. Researchers have found that people with Parkinson's Disease multiplied the likelihood of nasal discharge 5 times the average. This is after other possible causes had been accounted for. Over two thirds (68%) of people who had Parkinson's Disease reported nasal discharge. There was no relationship with age or severity of symptoms. The nasal discharge of over half (52%) of people with Parkinson's Disease was accompanied with light headedness. The symptom of lightheadedness is uncommon in people who do not have Parkinson's Disease, occurring in less than 1 in 10. Another study found similar results. For more information go to the Complete abstract. Frequent nasal discharge can lead to a reduction in the sense of smell, which is common in Parkinson's Disease.

It is not clearly known what causes this relationship. Nasal discharge occurring so frequently in Parkinson's Disease is not directly due to low dopamine, and a previous study found no relationship between rhinorrhea and dopamine agonists. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


19th July 2011 - New research


American Journal of Human Genetics [2011] 89 (1) : 162-167 (VilariŮo-GŁell C, et al)  Complete abstract

American Journal of Human Genetics [2011] 89 (1) : 168-175 (Zimprich A, et al) Complete abstract

A new form of genetic Parkinson's Disease called VPS35 has been discovered by two different lots of researchers. One of the studies concerned a Swiss family and other families who have late-onset Parkinson's Disease. The Swiss family has tremor-predominant L-dopa responsive Parkinsonism with an average of onset at 50 years old. The other study concerned an Austrian family with 16 affected individuals and others with an average of onset at 53 years old. The VPS35 gene produces a protein called VPS35 (Vacuolar protein sorting-associated protein 35). The function of VPS35 is known, but it is not explained how this function not taking place causes Parkinson's Disease symptoms. Unlike other genetic causes of Parkinson's Disease, VPS35 appears to eventually cause Parkinson's Disease symptoms rather than make them more likely.

Although Parkinson's Disease uncommonly has a genetic cause or increased likelihood, the prevalence of genetic Parkinson's Disease is not known, and may be more than is assumed. This is because there are a variety of genetic causes of Parkinson's Disease, and most people are never tested for them. Therefore, there are many people with Parkinson's Disease who have unknowingly been inclined, but not inevitably, to develop Parkinson's Disease all their life. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


16th July 2011 - New research


Movement Disorders [2011] Jul 13 [Epub ahead of print] (R.A.Hauser, A.L.Ellenbogen, L.V.Metman, A.Hsu, M.J. O'Connell, N.B.Modi, H.M.Yao, S.H.Kell, S.K.Gupta) Complete abstract

L-dopa combined with carbidopa usually comes in two different forms : either the immediate release version (such as Regular Sinemet), which satisfies the immediate need for L-dopa, or the controlled release version (such as Sinemet CR), which avoids the excessive effects of L-dopa by spreading out the effects of the L-dopa over time.

Dual layer L-dopa combines the two types of L-dopa and carbidopa - an immediate release form and a controlled release form, all in the same tablet. Dual layer L-dopa is consequently being developed as a possible replacement for Sinemet and Sinemet CR. Dual layer L-dopa (IPX054) was shown to be slightly more effective than conventional forms of L-dopa, despite having to be taken only twice a day instead of throughout the day. For more details go to the Complete abstract.  Dual layer L-dopa (IPX066) increased L-dopa levels at the same rate as immediate release L-dopa and carbidopa, and also provided more sustained L-dopa concentrations. It also substantially reduced the variability in plasma concentrations of L-dopa, despite being taken less often. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


14th July 2011 - New research


Dysphagia [2011] 26 (1) : 92-96 (Walker RW, Dunn JR, Gray WK.) Complete abstract

A third of people with Parkinson's Disease have been found to experience dysphagia. Dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing. This can cause eating and drinking problems, and more seriously causes choking, which can be fatal. For more information go to Dysphagia. The reason why dysphagia is so common in Parkinson's Disease is that the insufficient dopamine in Parkinson's Disease can affect all muscles, including those needed for swallowing, of which there are many. In Parkinson's Disease dysphagia has been found to be unrelated to age, gender or duration of Parkinson's Disease. However, dysphagia is very common in those people with sever motor skills. Although Parkinson's Disease underlies the problem in many cases, there are practical means of dealing with dysphagia. The recently published "Swallow Safely", which is "A caregiver's guide to recognition, treatment, and prevention" deals with the problem, particularly as it relates to Parkinson's Disease. Click here for more details. There is also the "Dysphagia Cookbook", specifically for people with dysphagia. Click here for more details. In order to refer to this article on its own click here


11th July 2011 - News release


The Parkinsonís Disease Foundation has announced awards totalling more than $1 million for 11 novel research projects, which they claim are "designed to understand the cause(s) of and find a cure for Parkinsonís disease." The research ranges from basic science investigations  to studies of potential new therapies and symptomatic relief. For more information go to the News Release.

The primary cause of Parkinson's Disease is the insufficient formation of dopamine in the dopaminergic neurons, which are the brain cells specialised in producing dopamine. Yet most of the projects are quite remote from this basic biochemistry of Parkinson's Disease. One of them aims at studying "the role of norepinephrine" and "the potential of norepinephrine-targeted therapies to treat" Parkinson's Disease. However, norepinephrine is not produced by the cells affected in Parkinson's Disease, and the formation or lack of formation of norepinephrine has never been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease. Another project is to assess "the role of the mitochondria in Parkinsonís" Disease using "Transparent Zebrafish". The mitochondria is the energy producing part of all brain cells. It is not directly involved in dopamine formation, and its deficiency has never been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease. Another project concerns the  "Identification of Genes for Parkinson's Disease in an Isolated Greek Community". However, genetic mutations have only ever been proven to make Parkinson's Disease more likely in a small number of people. Other studies include looking at the use of "Electrical Stimulation", "Identification of Neuroprotective Factors in Tobacco", generating "interest in Parkinsonís research and patient care among basic scientists and clinicians", and "Small Aromatic Molecules as Novel Inhibitors of Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation". In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


3rd July 2011 - New research


Parkinsonism Related Disorders [2011] Jun 27 [Epub ahead of print]  (Valadas A, Coelho M, Mestre T, Guedes LC, Finisterra M, Noronha A, Rosa MM, Sampaio C, Ferreira JJ.) Complete abstract

Limited data is available regarding the motivations and concerns of people with Parkinson's Disease when participating in clinical trials. Knowledge of these factors may improve the recruitment and quality of future trials.

When asked for their reasons the main reasons for participating in clinical trials were : to help the advance of science (63%), to gain access to a better treatment (56%), and to benefit others (51%). The major concerns were : the risk of adverse events (49%) and the negative effects of treatment (35%). 90% reported they had understood the informed consent. Only 64% understood what the placebo effect meant. 66% of patients would participate in another trial,  but only 41% of patients would participate in a placebo-controlled trial. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.


1st July 2011 - News release


The National Parkinson Foundation has awarded more than a million dollars for three Parkinson's Disease projects : (1) an advanced biomarker study for indicating Parkinson's Disease, (2) a clinical trial to treat memory impairment, and (3) a study of the effectiveness of a treatment for sleep apnea in Parkinson's Disease.

1. An advanced biomarker study will examine people with Parkinsonís Disease to measure the shapes of deep structures in the brain.  The goal is to develop a biomarker (an indicator) for Parkinsonís Disease. This new technique combines advances in computing power with established and inexpensive imaging techniques.

2. Motor learning involves practicing a task followed by forming a habit - a short-cut in the brain to do a complex motion. This study will investigate this process and how it is affected by Parkinson's Disease. They will then attempt to improve motor learning by stimulating neurons using TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).  TMS therapy has been shown to activate neurons in the brain and can be targeted to those associated with motor learning.

3. A study of the effectiveness of a treatment for sleep apnea in Parkinson's Disease. This study will evaluate the prevalence of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and test the effectiveness of a common SDB treatment in people with Parkinsonís  Disease.  Sleep disturbance in Parkinson's Disease has been highlighted as having a measurable impact on quality of life, and also contributing to trauma and injury associated with reduced vigilance due to fatigue.

For more information go to the News Release. In order to refer to this article on its own click here.  


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