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Rutgers Collaborates With Scripps Research Hoping To Develop New Drug Treatment
A collaboration between scientists at Rutgers University and Scripps Research led to the discovery of a small molecule that may slow down or stop the progression of Parkinsons disease.
Parkinsons, which affects 1 million people in the United States and over 10 million worldwide according to the Parkinsons Foundation, is a neurodegenerative disorder with no cure. Symptoms develop slowly over time and can be debilitating to patients, who most recognizably develop tremor, slow movements and a shuffling gait.
A key feature of Parkinsons disease is a protein named -synuclein, which accumulates in an abnormal form in brain cells causing them to degenerate and die. However, it has been difficult to target -synuclein because it does not have a fixed structure and keeps changing its shape, making it very difficult for drugs to target. Because higher levels of the protein in the brain speed the degeneration of brain cells, scientists have been looking for ways to decrease the protein production as a form of treatment.
In 2014, Parkinsons disease expert and scientist M. Maral Mouradian, William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology and director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics, contacted Matthew D. Disney, chemistry professor at Scripps Research in Florida, to explore a novel idea for treating Parkinsons disease using a new technology developed by Disney.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
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Take Control Of Your Health
As more people live longer, the incidence of chronic conditions is increasing, including Parkinsons disease.
However, as in the case of other chronic conditions, evidence is building that keeping your body and mind healthy might prevent or slow down the progression of Parkinsons.
Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and manage your stress to maintain the best possible quality of life.
What Makes Pd Hard To Predict
Parkinsonâs comes with two main buckets of possible symptoms. One affects your ability to move and leads to motor issues like tremors and rigid muscles. The other bucket has non-motor symptoms, like pain, loss of smell, and dementia.
You may not get all the symptoms. And you canât predict how bad theyâll be, or how fast theyâll get worse. One person may have slight tremors but severe dementia. Another might have major tremors but no issues with thinking or memory. And someone else may have severe symptoms all around.
On top of that, the drugs that treat Parkinsonâs work better for some people than others. All that adds up to a disease thatâs very hard to predict.
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Lets Talk Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons is a slowly progressive disorder that affects movement, muscle control, and balance.
Our understanding of PD pathophysiology has vastly improved compared to what we knew 20 years ago, explained the study authors.
We believe we can be optimistic that the next 20 years will see major breakthroughs towards the discovery of therapies that may slow, stop, or reverse PD.
The authors summarise recent advances, including identification of the major genetic risks for Parkinsons disease, development of more representative animal models of the disease, early successes using Antisense Oligonucleotide and vaccination approaches in other neurodegenerative diseases, along with a translational pipeline of a broad range of repurposed drugs showing the first signals of potential efficacy, which are being driven forward through the various clinical trial stages.
Discovery Could Help Slow Down Progression Of Parkinson’s Disease
Rutgers collaborates with Scripps Research hoping to develop new drug treatment
A collaboration between scientists at Rutgers University and Scripps Research led to the discovery of a small molecule that may slow down or stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s, which affects 1 million people in the United States and over 10 million worldwide according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, is a neurodegenerative disorder with no cure. Symptoms develop slowly over time and can be debilitating to patients, who most recognizably develop tremor, slow movements and a shuffling gait.
A key feature of Parkinson’s disease is a protein named -synuclein, which accumulates in an abnormal form in brain cells causing them to degenerate and die. However, it has been difficult to target -synuclein because it does not have a fixed structure and keeps changing its shape, making it very difficult for drugs to target. Because higher levels of the protein in the brain speed the degeneration of brain cells, scientists have been looking for ways to decrease the protein production as a form of treatment.
“We found the molecule to be very selective at both the RNA level and the protein level,” Disney says.
“The reach of our study could go beyond people with Parkinson’s disease to many other neurodegenerative diseases. It is a classic example of how interdisciplinary research leads to significant change,” she shares.
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How Can Hospice Help Your Loved One In The Final Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Hospice care is an extra layer of support to help you care for your loved one with end-stage Parkinsons disease. It is a special kind of care that provides comfort, support, and dignity at the end of life.
The comprehensive program focuses on physical, emotional, and spiritual quality of life through the help of a team of experts. The team includes a board-certified physician, nurse, social worker, certified home health aide , spiritual support counselor, and volunteer.
The nurse will explain the prognosis and what to expect in the upcoming days or weeks. They will also monitor pain and other symptoms. The CHHA helps with personal care needs like bathing and changing bed linens. The social worker helps address social, emotional and practical challenges including complex and inter-related needs. The spiritual support counselor helps explore spiritual concerns.
Most importantly, the hospice team will be there for you during this difficult time, bringing you peace of mind. The team is on call 24 hours a day even at 2:00 am.
Hospice is about making your final months and weeks as good as possible. This means focusing on what really matters to you.
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Improving Mobility Strength And Balance
Staying mobile and self-sufficient is top of mind for people living with Parkinson disease. Stiffness is also a known problem with the disease. This rigidity can cause poor posture and pain that leads to other functional problems. A physical therapist can help with these problems. PTs guide people with Parkinson through moves and stretches to increase mobility, strength, and balance.
A Way To Slow Parkinson’s
Blocking Specific Form of a Brain Chemical Could Slow Brain Cell Loss, Researchers Find
In the animal model, the researchers found they could slow the death of affected brain cells by about half by blocking the chemical, called soluble TNF.
The finding offers a target for new drugs that could slow the progression of the debilitating and deadly disease. And it may apply to Alzheimer’s diseaseAlzheimer’s disease as well, suggest University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers Melissa K. McCoy, MalÃº G. Tansey, PhD, and colleagues.
The researchers report their study in the Sept. 13 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
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Nanotechnology: Science Fiction Or Fact
The grand vision would be to develop a therapy that would accurately target alpha synuclein pathology, dissolve the toxic aggregates and push the equilibrium back towards normal monomeric alpha synuclein. Would this sci-fi dream ultimately be the definitive cure for PD? With the aptly named, graphene quantum dots , perhaps this dream is right in from of us. These nanoparticles have been shown to penetrate the blood brain barrier in rodents and protect dopaminergic neurons exposed to alpha synuclein preformed fibrils. In vitro data suggests these GQDs can in fact interact with alpha synuclein fibrils, blocking their formation and even promoting their disaggregation . If safe and sufficiently selective, might these GQDs be the magic bullet for PD?
Enhancing Neuronal Survival Processes
An alternative to stopping the spread of pathology, is to try and help neurons continue to function despite the presence of pathological alpha synuclein, i.e., to provide some form of trophic support. There are several classes of drugs being repurposed , which may achieve this.
There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the potential of Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists in PD . These drugs are licensed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and have neuroprotective properties across the whole range of animal models of PD, including 2 alpha synuclein models. There is some evidence that this action may relate to an improvement in brain insulin signaling which enhances Akt activity while additional data indicate these drugs may also act in parallel through a positive effect on neuroinflammation . Indeed, the increased risk of developing PD among T2DM patients may be ameliorated according to the choice of anti-diabetic agent used .
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Experts Explore Which Of The Existing Strategies To Slow Down Or Stop The Processes Of Parkinsons Disease Are Most Likely To Be Successful Over The Next 20 Years
Understanding of the processes involved in Parkinsons disease degeneration has vastly improved over the last 20 years. Published in the Journal of Parkinsons Disease, authors Tom Foltynie, MBBS, PhD, Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, UCL Institute of Neurology & The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UK, and J. William Langston, MD, Associate Director, Stanford Udall Center, Department of Pathology, Stanford University, USA, explain the progress of research.
Ways Physical Therapists Help Slow The Progression Of Parkinson Disease
It is well-known that exercise of any kind is good for each person’s health, both body and mind. But did you know that it is even more important for those living with Parkinson disease? Physical therapy is key to slowing down the disease. And it helps those affected to stay as independent as possible.
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Reprogramming For Compound Validation
Since their initial work focused on patients skin cells, the team needed to validate their findings in dopaminergic brain cells, which are lost in Parkinsons. This can be particularly challenging because we cant easily take a brain biopsy from a patient, says Dr Mortiboys. The team therefore used a reprogramming technique utilising the patients skin cells to generate induced neuronal progenitor cells. We used a slightly modified protocol, which doesnt take the cells all the way back to being stem cells, explains Dr Mortiboys. Our method takes them to an intermediate, which can only become brain cell types. Crucially for us, it doesnt take them back to the embryonic state. The reason for this is that age is one of the biggest risk factors for Parkinsons and many other neurodegenerative conditions. We didnt want to wipe all the age-associated changes in the cell so, with this reprogramming technique, we retained the changes that had happened throughout the cells lifetime while still producing a high percentage of dopaminergic cells.
Once these cells had been cultured, the team studied their mitochondrial function and observed that they were far more defective in the patients brain cells than in their skin cells. This showed us that it did matter which cells we were looking at it really was a problem with the mitochondria in the dopaminergic brain cells, explained Dr Mortiboys.
Slowing The Spread Of Alpha Synuclein Pathology
There is a mantra that disease modifying treatments must be initiated early if they are to be of any use in preventing disease progression. This is because post mortem specimens suggest that> 50% of SNc dopaminergic neurons are already lost by the time that patients present with the classical motor features of the disease . Given that there are many effective symptomatic treatments to help the motor, dopaminergic deficits in PD, it can be argued that the important unmet needs in PD relate to cognitive, speech, gait and balance difficulties and autonomic failure. In this case any treatment that prevented onset/worsening of these symptoms, would be highly relevant even in patients with established motor PD, and would be addressing the major challenges that patients face in its long-term management. From another perspective, since many of these non-motor features of PD may precede the onset of motor symptoms, we may have an even earlier window to start therapy, and have an opportunity to slow or stop the development of even the first motor symptoms of PD.
Beyond this, the companies will have to look carefully at the emerging data to decide whether a strategy of enrichment might be advantageous, and/or whether to risk extending trial eligibility to patients with more established disease than those currently being recruited.
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Preventing Or Slowing Parkinsons Progression
Thus far, physical activity throughout life is the one lifestyle factor with the strongest research support for reducing the risk of Parkinsons disease.
Aerobic exercise benefits brain health at a cellular level. It gets the heart beating faster, so that more oxygen is supplied to the brain this reduces inflammation and also improves cognitive function.
Studies which follow large groups of people over many years have found that there is a lower incidence of Parkinsons in those who reported moderate to high levels of physical activity in midlife. Persons who exercised regularly and did develop the condition experienced slower progression of symptoms.
Furthermore, studies of people with Parkinsons disease have shown that regular exercise could slow down progression and improve quality of life. It is self-evident that building up endurance, muscle strength, and balance in the early stages of Parkinsons will provide a reserve of physical function as the disease progresses.
The following are dietary guidelines, backed by some research, which may help to prevent Parkinsons or slow down disease progression:
Experts are currently theorizing that prolonged emotional stress might trigger Parkinsons disease. It is known that continuous high levels of adrenalin and cortisol, and the inflammation it causes, damages brain cells.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms: Life Expectancy
Even though Parkinson’s disease is a serious, progressive condition, it is not considered a fatal illness. People who have Parkinson’s disease usually have the same average life expectancy as people without the disease.
But when the disease is in its advanced stages, Parkinson’s symptoms can lead to life-threatening complications, including:
- Falls that lead to fractured bones
Thinking about the progression of Parkinson’s disease can be frightening. But proper treatments can help you live a full, productive life for years to come. And researchers hope to one day find ways to halt the progression of Parkinson’s and restore lost functioning.
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How Patients Are Using Cycling To Slow Down Parkinson’s
Parkinsons symptoms include tremor, rigid muscles and problems with movement. While early treatment can delay the worst symptoms, people almost always get worse. About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year and about a million Americans have Parkinsons now.
No medical therapy can cure Parkinsons and while exercise was always shown to help people feel better, it was not generally accepted as a true therapy until recently.
Now teams are trying to find out how much exercise helps and just which symptoms it affects. Doctors say theyd be thrilled just to slow the inevitable worsening of the disease and if they can freeze progression or reverse symptoms, that would be a home run.
Corcos and colleagues say the most intense exercise appears to have at least temporarily frozen symptoms in many of their volunteers.
“The earlier in the disease you intervene, the more likely it is you can prevent the progression of the disease,” Corcos said in a statement.
“We delayed worsening of symptoms for six months, he added. Whether we can prevent progression any longer than six months will require further study.”
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They worked with 128 patients with early stage Parkinsons. They randomly assigned them to either moderate exercise four days a week, intense exercise four days a week, or no additional exercise.
“This is not mild stretching. This is high intensity, Corcos said.
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