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6 June 2013

PD-Like Sleep and Motor Problems Observed in α-Synuclein Mutant Mice

The presence of Lewy bodies in nerve cells, formed by intracellular deposits of the protein α-synuclein, is a characteristic pathologic feature of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). In the quest for an animal model of PD that mimics motor and non-motor symptoms of human PD, scientists have developed strains of mice that overexpress α-synuclein. By studying a strain of mice bred to overexpress α-synuclein via the Thy-1 promoter, scientists have found these mice develop many of the age-related progressive motor symptoms of PD and demonstrate changes in sleep and anxiety. Their results are published in the latest issue of Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

1 July 2012

Years before Diagnosis, Quality of Life Declines for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Growing evidence suggests that Parkinson’s disease (PD) often starts with non-motor symptoms that precede diagnosis by several years. In the first study to examine patterns in the quality of life of Parkinson’ disease patients prior to diagnosis, researchers have documented declines in physical and mental health, pain, and emotional health beginning several years before the onset of the disease and continuing thereafter. Their results are reported in the latest issue of Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

19 June 2012

Sleep Improves Functioning in Parkinson’s Patients, but Reasons Remain Elusive

Some Parkinson’s patients report that their motor function is better upon awakening in the morning, which is contrary to what would be expected after a night without medication. This phenomenon, known as sleep benefit, has been studied but no consistent variables have been found and in the last decade there has been little new research. A new study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, assesses a large sample of Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and confirms that some patients experience sleep benefit, both overnight and following afternoon naps, but finds no significant variables between those who do benefit and those who do not.

23 April 2012

19th Century Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease May Help Patients Today

In the 19th century, the celebrated neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, developed a “vibration chair” to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He reported improvements in his patients, but he died shortly thereafter and a more complete evaluation of the therapy was never conducted. Now a group of scientists at Rush University Medical Center have replicated his work, and they report that while vibration therapy does significantly improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the effect is due to placebo or other nonspecific factors, and not the vibration. Their study is published in the April issue of Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

17 April 2012

New Findings and Imaging Techniques May Aid Diagnosis of Concomitant Alzheimer’s in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Dementia is a frequent complication of Parkinson’s disease (PD), but it is clinically impossible to distinguish PD dementia (PDD), which develops from the progression of the Lewy body pathology that underlies PD, from PD with coexistent Alzheimer’s disease (PDAD). Both have similar characteristics. A team of scientists has found that PDAD patients have much denser accumulations of amyloid plaques in the striatal area of the brain than PDD patients. The results suggest that recently developed imaging techniques may be able to identify striatal amyloid plaques in the living brain and could be useful for distinguishing PDD from PDAD. Their results are published in the April issue of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

24 January 2012

Scientists Report First Step in Strategy for Cell Replacement Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are a promising avenue for cell replacement therapy in neurologic diseases. For example, mouse and human iPSCs have been used to generate dopaminergic (DA) neurons that improve symptoms in rat Parkinson’s disease models. Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, a group of scientists from Japan evaluated the growth, differentiation, and function of human-derived iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in a primate model, elucidating their therapeutic potential.

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