Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write. Symptoms develop gradually, and may start off with ever-so-slight tremors in one hand. People with Parkinson's disease also experience stiffness and find they cannot carry out movements as rapidly as before - this is called bradykinesia. The muscles of a person with Parkinson's become weaker and the individual may assume an unusual posture.

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. Movement disorders describe a variety of abnormal body movements that have a neurological basis, and include such conditions as cerebral palsy, ataxia, and Tourette syndrome.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson's disease is primarily caused by low and falling dopamine levels..

Nobel Prize Winners Discovered 

Receptors with  Relevance to Parkinson's 


American scientists Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2012) for discoveries surrounding receptors that play a role in certain medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease (PD).

Studies into so-called G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are critical to drug development: About half of all medications, including those as diverse as antihistamines, beta blockers, and antipsychotics, work by acting on them. 
Parkinson's drugs such as Mirapex and Requip target dopamine receptors, which are members of the GPCR family. Research into developing new PD drugs against GPCRs is ongoing.
"G-protein-coupled receptors are ubiquitous in the function of cells in the body and help us to sense light, flavour and odour," explains David Phillips of the Royal Society of Chemistry. "They are also responsible for the human body's reactions to chemicals such as adrenaline, histamine, dopamine and serotonin - which are associated with medical conditions such as allergies, depression and Parkinson's disease. But before Lefkowitz identified them and, together with Kobilka, determined how they work, nobody even knew they existed."
This year has marked intriguing study results into Parkinson's treatments focused on certain kinds of glutamate receptors, which are a type of GPCR.


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