New Treatment May Have The Potential To Slow Stop Or Reverse Parkinson Disease
Results from a recent study suggest that a revolutionary treatment may have the potential to slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of Parkinson disease.
Results from a February study of a revolutionary treatment suggest that it may be possible to slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of Parkinson disease, according to findings in the Journal of Parkinsons Disease.
The 3-part, experimental study investigated whether using a novel delivery system to increase levels of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor can regenerate dying dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson disease and even reverse their condition. GDNF is a naturally occurring protein that promotes the survival of many types of neurons.
I believe that this approach could be the first neuro-restorative treatment for people living with Parkinson’s, which is, of course, an extremely exciting prospect, Steven Gill, MB, MS, FRCS, who designed the infusion device used in the study, said in a statement.
Initially, 6 patients enrolled in a pilot study which evaluated the safety of the treatment approach. After the pilot study, 35 additional individuals participated in a subsequent 9-month double-blind trial. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to receive monthly infusions of GDNF while the other half received placebos.
What Makes Pd Hard To Predict
Parkinsonâs comes with two main buckets of possible symptoms. One affects your ability to move and leads to motor issues like tremors and rigid muscles. The other bucket has non-motor symptoms, like pain, loss of smell, and dementia.
You may not get all the symptoms. And you canât predict how bad theyâll be, or how fast theyâll get worse. One person may have slight tremors but severe dementia. Another might have major tremors but no issues with thinking or memory. And someone else may have severe symptoms all around.
On top of that, the drugs that treat Parkinsonâs work better for some people than others. All that adds up to a disease thatâs very hard to predict.
Enhancing Neuronal Survival Processes
An alternative to stopping the spread of pathology, is to try and help neurons continue to function despite the presence of pathological alpha synuclein, i.e., to provide some form of trophic support. There are several classes of drugs being repurposed , which may achieve this.
There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the potential of Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists in PD . These drugs are licensed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and have neuroprotective properties across the whole range of animal models of PD, including 2 alpha synuclein models. There is some evidence that this action may relate to an improvement in brain insulin signaling which enhances Akt activity while additional data indicate these drugs may also act in parallel through a positive effect on neuroinflammation . Indeed, the increased risk of developing PD among T2DM patients may be ameliorated according to the choice of anti-diabetic agent used .
Don’t Miss: What Are Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease
Improving Mobility Strength And Balance
Staying mobile and self-sufficient is top of mind for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Stiffness is also a known problem with the disease. This rigidity can cause poor posture and pain that leads to other functional problems. A physical therapist can help with these problems. PTs guide people with Parkinson’s through moves and stretches to increase mobility, strength, and balance.
How Often Do Patients Need To Exercise To Benefit
Patients need to engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to see an impact. In a paper published in JAMA Neurology, researchers were able to delay the progression of PD for six months through exercise alone, splitting exercise into three sessions per week, with each session increasing the participants heart rate to a maximum of 80-85%.
Don’t Miss: What Are Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease
There Have Been Some Studies Over The Last Two Decades That Suggested That Physical Activity Delays The Symptoms Says Ucla Health Neurologist Dr Jeff Bronstein
Linda Berghoff leads patients with Parkinson’s disease through a series of dance sequences.
What if your doctor told you all you have to do to decelerate the progression of Parkinsons disease was turn on some music and two-step your way to better health? Would you do it?
Whether we have two left feet or we consider ourselves to be Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers on the dance floor, music makes us move and groove, from a simple head bop to tap dancing or hip-hop.
However, a Canadian study released in July revealed that dancing to music is more powerful than we might think.
Between 2014 and 2017, researchers at York University monitored 16 people with an average age of 69 who all had been diagnosed with mild cases of Parkinsons disease . The participants attended weekly dance classes for three years. During that time, they experienced an improvement in speech, reduction in tremors, better balance and decreased rigidity.
The researchers also tracked 16 non-dancers, with similar Parkinsons diagnoses, who did not see any improvements during the three-year period.
Dr. Jeff Bronstein, a neurologist at UCLA Health who specializes in movement disorders, is not surprised by the outcome of the research. A patient of his, Linda Berghoff, co-founded the Dancing Through Parkinsons program in 2010. They both know firsthand the benefits of dance in combating Parkinsons.
However, dancing is just one form of exercise that will benefit people with Parkinsons.
What Was Your Biggest Takeaway From This Years Mds Virtual Congress
This year, I had an amazing opportunity to look at different types of research. There were strong new ideas on biomarker development, as well as drug development, which I mentioned before. There was also many different modalities and targets that represent the direction of the field. I see now that many people are working towards finding that drug or cure that can slow the progression of the disease. This is after many years in which people were developing symptomatic drugs. There have been many attempts in the past, but they were not successful. Overall, MDS Virtual Congress was a great platform in which there were many different types of initiatives and clinicians sharing data on biomarker and mechanisms that include biology, but also several on new drugs.
Transcript was edited for clarity.
Don’t Miss: Lifespan Of Someone With Parkinson’s
Environmental And Genetic Factors
Scientists are also working to learn more about environmental factors and genetic factors that might contribute to the risk of developing Parkinsons. One recent genetic research breakthrough is the development of a DNA chip called NeuroX, which could potentially determine a persons risk, but more research is needed.
Parkinsons disease is the result of complicated combination of interconnected events, as described it. Since aging is the most common risk factor, future treatments may need to take degeneration of certain neurons into account.
Ways Physical Therapists Help Slow The Progression Of Parkinson’s Disease
It is well-known that exercise of any kind is good for each person’s health, both body and mind. But did you know that it is even more important for those living with Parkinson’s disease? Physical therapy is key to slowing down the disease. And it helps those affected to stay as independent as possible.
Don’t Miss: Does Parkinson’s Cause Memory Issues
Theory Of Pd Progression: Braaks Hypothesis
The current theory is that the earliest signs of Parkinson’s are found in the enteric nervous system, the medulla and the olfactory bulb, which controls sense of smell. Under this theory, Parkinson’s only progresses to the substantia nigra and cortex over time.
This theory is increasingly borne out by evidence that non-motor symptoms, such as a loss of sense of smell , sleep disorders and constipation may precede the motor features of the disease by several years. For this reason, researchers are increasingly focused on these non-motor symptoms to detect PD as early as possible and to look for ways to stop its progression.
Page reviewed by Dr. Ryan Barmore, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.
*Please note that not all content is available in both languages. If you are interested in receiving Spanish communications, we recommend selecting both” to stay best informed on the Foundation’s work and the latest in PD news.
First Hints Parkinson’s Can Be Stopped
Health and science reporter, BBC News website
It may be possible to stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease with a drug normally used in type 2 diabetes, a clinical trial suggests.
Current drugs help manage the symptoms, but do not prevent brain cells dying.
The trial on 62 patients, published in the Lancet, hints the medicine halted the progression of the disease.
The University College London team is “excited”, but it urges caution as any long-term benefit is uncertain and the drug needs more testing.
“There’s absolutely no doubt the most important unmet need in Parkinson’s is a drug to slow down disease progression, it’s unarguable,” Prof Tom Foltynie, one of the researchers, told the BBC.
In Parkinson’s, the brain is progressively damaged and the cells that produce the hormone dopamine are lost.
It leads to a tremor, difficulty moving and eventually memory problems.
Therapies help manage symptoms by boosting dopamine levels, but the death of the brain continues and the disease gets worse.
No drug stops that happening.
Read Also: How Long Can A Person Live With Parkinson’s Disease
Progression Of Parkinsons Disease
It is difficult to know how quickly Parkinsons disease will develop in a given person because the progression of the disease is unique to each individual. Do not rely on what you see in other people with Parkinsons disease.
Parkinsons disease is a slow progressive disease, meaning symptoms worsen over time. The nature and intensity of the symptoms vary from person to person and the first symptoms often go unnoticed.
Some symptoms of Parkinsons disease such as depression, loss of smell and REM sleep behaviour disorder can appear up to 10 years before motor symptoms. Despite symptom progression, it is quite possible to have a good quality of life several years after diagnosis.
Watch out for changes in your symptoms or the development of new symptoms and talk to your neurologist. Although there is no cure yet for Parkinsons disease, there are many treatments available to alleviate symptoms and prolong your independence as much as possible.
Why Is Dancing So Effective In Slowing Parkinsons
Berghoff recalled the painful sight of watching her mother battle with Parkinsons and feared that would be her situation too. However, she believes that dancing has made it a much more manageable fight due to its multiple benefits.
With dance, you get the element of exercise, but you also get balance and flexibility, said Berghoff. You deal with strength in your movement and you have the element of choreography where you have to remember sequences of dance and movement. Its not just physical. Its mental. Its cognitive because youre remembering things. And theres the element of artistic expression, which brings grace to people with a movement disorder
Berghoff and Karlin eventually launched Dancing Through Parkinsons, their own dance program for people with Parkinsons. The nonprofit, going strong for more than a decade with funding from donations, is free to attend.
Dancing Through Parkinsons is one of several programs under the umbrella of the Invertigo Dance Theatre. It holds classes throughout Los Angeles County including in Venice, Inglewood, Beverly Hills, Culver City and Tarzana. Berghoff, who is on the board of Dancing Through Parkinsons along with Dr. Bronstein, also teaches some of the classes.
Im not a professional dancer, but I have Parkinsons so I do understand the problems some of the participants may have with movement, said Berghoff. Participants can attend by themselves, or with a family member or a caregiver.
Don’t Miss: Do I Have Parkinsons
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Dopamine is an important brain chemical that is responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells, both in the brain and in the rest of the body. In Parkinsons disease, the brain cells that produce dopamine gradually die and the symptoms become progressively worse as dopamine levels decrease.
Dopamine is involved in controlling conscious body movement, mood, memory, and thinking. Changes in movement are the most obvious symptoms of Parkinsons and include:
- Tremors, first in the fingers or thumbs and then later the hands.
- Slower movement
- Increase in sudden movements while asleep
- A mask-like, emotionless, facial expression
- Arms that do not swing normally when walking
- Softer, possibly hoarse, speech.
- Changes in handwriting
Symptoms of Parkinsons that are not related to movement include changes in thinking, including a shorter attention span, memory loss, and unclear speech. Those affected might also experience mood and sleep disorders. Other physical symptoms include constipation, fatigue, dizziness, and loss of taste or smell.
The actual symptoms, and the how rapidly they become worse, vary between those with Parkinsons. The first three symptoms listed above are the most typical of the condition and doctors look out for at least two of them before confirming a diagnosis of Parkinsons.
Can Progression Of Parkinson Disease Be Slowed
Deep brain stimulation implanted in early-stage Parkinson disease was found to decrease the risk of disease progression. If findings are replicated in a larger trial recently approved by the FDA, DBS would be the first therapy proven to slow the progression of any element in PD.
Deep brain stimulation implanted in early stage Parkinson disease was found to decrease the risk of disease progression and lessen the need for multiple, simultaneous prescription drugs, according to study findings published in Neurology.
PD serves as the fastest growing neurological disorder worldwide, with as many as 60,000 US cases diagnosed each year. Innovations within the treatment of PD have led to better, noninvasive outcomes for common symptoms such as tremor and OFF periods. However, as the disease progresses, these therapies may not prove as effective and can contribute to significant economic burden for both patients and caregivers.
When it comes to managing PD, senior author David Charles, MD, professor and vice chair of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center , noted the relentless nature of the disease, which currently has no therapies approved to slow its progression.
After the 5-year follow-up, the study found that those with early-stage PD who received early DBS with ODT had a more than 5 times lesser odds of of experiencing worsening of their rest tremor compared with those given only ODT .
Don’t Miss: What Is The Life Expectancy Of Someone With Parkinson’s Disease
High Intensity Exercise Helps Slow Progression Of Parkinsons
The Davis Phinney Foundation has long promoted exercise as an intervention people with Parkinsons can use to live well each day. Results recently published by a Davis Phinney Foundation funded researcher help substantiate the positive impacts of exercise and give people with Parkinsons even more incentive to stay on track with exercise programs.
Dr. Margaret Schenkman of the University of Colorado School of Medicine is the lead author of this work, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article outlines a phase 2 clinical trial of high-intensity treadmill exercise in people with Parkinsons that was performed with colleagues at multiple sites, including Chicago, Denver and Pittsburgh.
Participants were invited to take part in the study if they did not exercise at moderate intensity more than three times per week, were not on dopaminergic medications and had been diagnosed within five years of the start of the study. The 128 individuals were randomized into three groups.
The high-intensity group was instructed to exercise on a treadmill four days a week at 80%-85% of their maximum heart rate.
A moderate-intensity group was instructed to exercise on a treadmill four days per week at 60%-65% of their maximum heart rate. The target for success was a frequency of three days per week.
The third group of individuals was comprised of a wait-list control group that received usual medical care but was not prescribed an exercise intervention.
What You Can Expect
Parkinson does follow a broad pattern. While it moves at different paces for different people, changes tend to come on slowly. Symptoms usually get worse over time, and new ones probably will pop up along the way.
Parkinsonâs doesnât always affect how long you live. But it can change your quality of life in a major way. After about 10 years, most people will have at least one major issue, like dementia or a physical disability.
Recommended Reading: Parkinson’s Disease Deadly
The History Of Parkinsons
Parkinsons disease was first defined as a shaking palsy in 1817 by James Parkinson. Half a century later, in 1872, the Parisian neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot coined the term Parkinsons disease.
Though Parkinson was the first to describe the disease in modern medicine, Charcot and his colleagues revolutionised treatments in the mid-19th century.. Parkinson was a proponent of blood-letting from the neck, in a bid to siphon off inflammatory pathogens and prevent them from reaching the brain. But Charcot and his colleagues favoured pharmaceutical approaches centred around anticholinergic drugs, which block the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Anticholinergics are still in use today.
Around the same time, a host of other treatments were being explored at a hospital in Paris. Hyoscyamine, a plant-derived medication, was put in bread and fed to patients. Other medications, such as a derivative of quinine, were mixed with a syrup of orange rinds.
Charcot also claimed to see the symptoms of patients with Parkinsons improving when travelling by train and horse-carriage. He became a proponent of vibration therapy, where patients bodies and heads were shaken vigorously by a rigged motor.
Eat Fresh Raw Vegetables
If you needed more reasons to eat your vegetables, this should be the clincher. Studies show that increased amounts of the B vitamin folic acid, found primarily in vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of Parkinsons.
The best sources of folic acid are simultaneously some of the healthiest foods on the planet, namely dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collard greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus and okra all of which can be grown in your backyard! This B vitamin can also be found in avocado, legumes and lentils.
Also Check: Can Parkinson’s Run In The Family