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Medical Parkinson's cure

  1. Mar 9, 2006 #1
    Now from my understanding. parkinsons is when a part of your brain dies and another close by part gets overclocked and starts malfunctoning and causing the tremors.

    The fix for this being a pacemaker to regulate the impulses.

    But wouldnt the best cure be simply clone the part of the brain and replace it? As it is dead anyhow.

    and yes i know. the crazy people dont like the cloning issues.

    But maybe the same can be used to find a compatible donor, but usually donors donate after death, and usually the brain dies.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2006 #2

    DocToxyn

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    Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by the very selective loss of dopaminergic neurons that have their cell bodies in a region of the midbrain called the substantia nigra and their terminals in a region called the striatum. These regions are relatively far apart and are not exclusively made up of just these particular neurons. There are other cell types, such as gaba-ergic interneurons, astrocytes, microglia, etc in these regions as well. There is a gradual loss of these dopaminergic neurons throughout the course of your lifetime, something occurs in PD patients to accelerate this process until the critical threshold of about 70-80% loss is achieved. Once this happens then clinical symptoms of PD will begin to appear. It would be nice just to cut out the affected regions and replace them, but this is just not feasible. For one, it would require deep brain surgery, which is complicated enough, without adding in the factor of restablishing millions of connections that are made going into and out of those affected brain regions. Plus by removing entire brain regions you would be pulling out completely healthy cells just to get at the dead/dying dopamine neurons. This would affect communication with other regions. You would more likely make the situation worse. Another factor to consider is that regeneration and recovery from injury/surgery in the brain is a slow/non-existant process. You would not only have to put the regions back together properly, but also supply specific growth factors and conditions that don't exist in those areas any more.

    Having said that there are therapies/strategies that are being investigated to aid in treating this disease. You mentioned stimulation therapies that work by over-stimulating the remaining dopaminergic neurons to produce more dopamine in an attempt to compensate for the loss of the other neurons. There are also drug therapies to alter the function of selected receptors/neurons within the dopaminergic motor pathways. These treatment are effective and can dramatially help people sufferring from PD, however the problem with all these treatments in that they do nothing to stop the loss of the dopamine neurons and it is possible to argue that they may accelerate it. There are animal models being investigated where researchers have placed dopamine producing cells grown in culture into the striatum in an attempt to increase dopaminergic tone in those area. Some of these are also effective, but again it doesn't stop disease progression and currently are only performed in laboratory animals. PD is a complicated disease that we still do not fully understand and thus this limits our options on how to effectively treat it.
     
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