Parkinson’s News Today regularly reports the latest news on clinical trials, state-of-the-art research, and events related to Parkinson’s disease. With 2015 at a close, Parkinson’s News Today brings you the past year’s Top 10 Parkinson’s Disease Stories as determined by the number of views given each article by readers.
A study titled “The changing tree in Parkinson’s disease” revealed a novel and dynamic rewiring of neuronal circuits in the motor cortex of mice models of Parkinson’s disease (PD), suggesting a disease model where the stabilization of neural motor circuits of newly formed learning-induced spines is defective, ultimately resulting in motor learning and memory deficits in mice similar to that observed in PD patients.
Dr. Haydeh Payami, PhD, a University of Alabama researcher working to prevent Parkinson’s disease in individuals who are genetically prone to the condition, joined with the HudsonAlpha Institute to discover 1) which genes interact with environmental risk factors to predict people at risk of disease development, and 2) which genes determine the success and the toxicity of drugs for disease prevention and treatment, so that medicine can move toward better and more personalized care.
In a report titled “Protective Mechanisms of Flavonoids in Parkinson’s Disease,” researchers concluded that plant-based flavonoids may help ward off Parkinson’s disease. Flavonoids are produced by plants during photosynthesis and exist in many fruits and vegetables, activating natural antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress — the production of damaging free radicals that can kill cells and are understood as a main mechanism of cellular damage in PD.
A group of researchers from the Buck Institute for Age Research reported that low-dose lithium was seen in an animal model to reduce involuntary motor movements, one of the most troubling side effects of the most commonly administered medication for Parkinson’s disease.
No. 6 – “Dopamine-Neurons’ High Energy Requirements Leads to Neuronal Overheating in Parkinson’s Disease”
In the study, “Elevated mitochondrial bioenergetics and axonal arborization size are key contributors to the vulnerability of dopamine neurons,” scientists discovered an explanation as to why dopamine-producing neurons are particularly vulnerable in Parkinson’s disease. These findings point toward a key role for mitochondria and these neurons’ high energy requirements as the underlying disease triggering mechanisms.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers, in a study titled “Epigenetics of Memory,” linked a Parkinson’s disease-causing mutation in the Fbx07 gene with mitophagy. The study reinforced previous findings that non-efficient clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria is a cause of brain cell death in PD patients, and highlighted mitophagy as a target for future therapies.
Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience researchers, together with scientists from the University of York, released a study supporting the fast-tracking of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), used for decades to treat liver disease, in new clinical trials as a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease patients.
University of Maryland researchers conducted the first clinical trial using ultrasound waves to treat Parkinson’s disease. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the waves are guided through the intact skin and skull to the globus pallidus region of the brain, targeting motor symptoms of tremor, rigidity, and dyskinesia in PD patients.
This study sought to understand if concentrated chocolate supplements could help alleviate Parkinson’s disease’s symptoms. Researchers here were investigating the benefits of phenylethylamine, a compound found in cocoa that has been linked to dopamine up-regulation.
Two research papers, led by the University of California at San Francisco scientists, found that multiple system atrophy (MSA), a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease, is actually caused by a new type of prion, a variant of the misfolded proteins associated with incurable brain diseases, like the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (also known as “mad cow disease”).
Continue to read Parkinson’s News Today throughout 2016 for continued news on the latest developments in PD research and treatment.