Parkinson’s in the news: May

Global update

Author: Roisin McCormackPublished: 30 May 2019

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From the Nobel prize winner launching a project that aims to understand Parkinson’s within a decade, to the Italian doctor who believes dancing an Irish jig can improve symptoms of the condition – we look at Parkinson’s stories that made headlines around the world in May 2019

The Nobel prize winner tackling Parkinson’s

The 2013 Nobel prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, Randy Schekman, has launched a project to bring the greatest minds in the world together to try and understand the basic science behind Parkinson’s. Schekman was approached to lead the project by Google co-founder Sergey Brin after his wife died battling the condition. He aims to gain new insights on the causes of the condition within a decade.

Bipolar disorder may increase risk of Parkinson’s

A study has found that people living with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. Researchers at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan compared the health records of 56,340 people with bipolar to those of 225,360 people with neither a Parkinson’s or a bipolar diagnosis.

Data found that 0.7% of the people with bipolar disorder developed Parkinson’s, while only 0.1% of the other test group did. Mu-Hong Chen, the lead author of the study, said: “If we could identify the underlying cause of this relationship, that could potentially help us develop treatments that could benefit both conditions”.

Blink rate may help predict blood levodopa levels in Parkinson’s patients, study suggests

A Japanese study has found that measuring how frequently a person blinks could help predict changes in people with Parkinson’s who are being treated with levodopa. The researchers gave three people with Parkinson’s a device – shaped like ordinary eyeglasses – to calculate their “Blink Index”. Those with a higher concentration of levodopa in their system were found to blink more.

Researchers concluded that: “The continuous monitoring of [blink rate] may be useful for predicting the motor status in patients”.

How a little black box is helping people with Parkinson’s disease walk

Medical device company De Oro Devices has produced a device called “Gaitway” – a small box that attaches to a cane or walking stick and offers people with Parkinson’s a solution to freezing of gait. The device projects a green laser line in front of the user, sending signals to the brain to ‘step forward’ while a metronome provides users with a consistent beat to walk to.

Doctors find cure for Parkinson’s disease in Irish dancing

An experiment conducted in Italy by Dr Daniele Volpe has found that traditional Irish dancing can lessen the effects of Parkinson’s and allow those with the condition to move freely. After a six month study treating 24 people with the condition – half with conventional physiotherapy and the other half with regular Irish dance classes – Volpe found that those in the Irish dance group saw their symptoms improve the most.

Inflamed monkey guts produce Parkinson’s-related proteins

A study published by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, has found that the intestinal linings of monkeys with inflamed bowels show chemical similarities to the abnormal protein found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s.

These findings contribute to the idea that inflammation may play a key role in the development of the condition – as people with inflammatory bowel disorders are often more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.

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Parkinson’s in the news: April 

Parkinson’s in the news: March

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