Two outstanding steps forward in understanding and curing Parkinson’s were made by scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California. The answers they came up with are mind-blowing: early Parkinson’s patients seem to develop the disorder before they were even born, and a gel that helps to cure skin cancer might also help to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease story
It is a neurological disease that generates slowness of movement, rigid muscles, tremors, and loss of balance. It is caused by a malfunction in the dopamine’s process of coordinating the muscle movement. Dopamine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Due to unknown causes, brain neurons that secret dopamine become impaired or even die, thus causing the symptoms consistent with Parkinson’s. Between 6,000 and 12,000, people in the US have Parkinson’s disease that started before they were 50 years old.
The study was based on a special process that tracks the stem cell back to its embryonic state. The process is known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The team back at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center used the process and produced dopamine neurons from patients with early Parkinson’s.
They then studied them, and the result was painfully relevant: the patients were doomed before they were born. Two vital abnormalities were detected in the dopamine neurons they harvested — accumulation of alpha-synuclein and malfunctioning lysosomes, both consistent with causing Parkinson’s.
The probable translational science cancer drug might cure Parkinson’s disease
The researchers tested several numbers of existing drugs that could lead to finding a cure. PEP005, used for treating precancers of the skin, reduced the elevated levels of alpha-synuclein in both the dopamine neurons prevailed and in laboratory mice. The cancer drug is currently available as a gel, but a way of transforming it into suitable treatment or prevention for young-onset Parkinson’s disease potentially is on the way.