Parkinson’s disease is a degerenative disease, where the nerve cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine die over time. The loss of dopamine causes problems in a circuit that helps to control movement, leading to the tremor and rigidity associated with the disease. Drugs like L-DOPA restore dopamine levels, and help patients in early-stage PD.
Unfortunately, as more cells are lost, the ability to regulate the dopamine level is also lost. Therefore, when patients first take their drug there is a huge upswing in activity, leading to dyskinesia – uncontrolled and involuntary movements. As the drug wears off there is a huge downswing, and patients can become frozen and paralysed.
Members of the lab I work in are tackling the problem of dyskinesia, by examining ways in which we can even out the dopamine levels, and avoid these fluctuations. We’ve had some success, and hopefully this can lead to treatments in the future. In the mean time, it’s amazing and inspiring to see people like Tom who are finding novel and creative ways to manage their symptoms.
Reblooged from white-coat