Parkinson’s disease affects millions of people all over the world, making the neurons completely die or damaging them. It leads to a loss of mobility due to the reduction of part of the nerve cells and the lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine produced by them. Its deficiency leads to increased inertia and slower cognitive processes. Predisposition to this disease can be inherited.
Until now, the means for resuming growth or neuron activity did not exist, therefore, there was the only symptomatic treatment for this disease.
The diagnosis of the disease includes the examination of the patient by a neurologist and a number of studies, in particular, computer or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Based on their results, the doctor makes a diagnosis and prescribes a treatment that helps the patient to maintain motor function. It consists not only in the corresponding medicinal therapy but also in the diet, special physical exercises, massage, various physiotherapeutic procedures.
Researchers at Kyoto University have proposed using stem cells against Parkinson’s disease. According to their project, neurons grown from induced pluripotent stem cells are introduced into the brain of patients. Induced pluripotent stem cells are obtained from “adult” specialized cells, for example, skin cells, by reprogramming back to a non-specialized state. From them, scientists can then get different types of cells.
Last year, Japanese doctors transplanted artificially grown neurons into the brain of a 50-year-old patient. They will continue to monitor this patient for several years, but according to the first data, this new treatment for Parkinson’s disease is safe.
In 2006, scientists from Kyoto University for the first time obtained stem cells of non-embryonic origin – iPS was able to be created from skin cells. Then they were tested on primates: after half a year, monkeys infected with Parkinson’s had significant improvements in motor function. At the same time, no tumors and other side effects of nerve cell transplantation appeared in the brain of animals.
Israeli scientists have developed a new method of treatment of Parkinson’s disease using ultrasonic waves. For the first time, doctors managed to affect the affected areas of the brain without damaging healthy tissue. Clinical trials of the method were conducted in the USA, where they showed impressive results: the functional activity of patients with Parkinson’s disease increased significantly.
It is also important to mention a new medical method that is already used in medicine, a deep brain stimulation.
It is a minimally invasive (without using a scalpel) surgery, in which a special electrode is implanted into the patient’s brain, stimulating its activity. The essence of deep brain stimulation is that when electrical impulses are applied with a certain frequency and intensity in a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease, motor disturbances, especially tremor, are significantly reduced.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that scientists are trying to take all possible measures to combat this illness and they hope that their current results will help to develop more targeted treatments for neurodegenerative conditions.