Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative motor disorder and is caused by loss of dopaminergic neurons. Parkinson's was the first disease of the nervous system to be identified as a molecular disease caused by a specific defect in transmitter metabolism. Parkinson's disease was first described by James Parkinson in 1871.
In most case Parkinson's begin at the age of 50. Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease occur gradually. According to the studies conducted in United States, PD is more common in men than women. The main symptoms of PD include:
• Tremor or trembling in arms, legs, face and jaws
• Rigidity ( increased muscle tone)
• Akinesia: impaired initiation of movements
• Bradykinesis: slowness of movement
• Paucity of spontaneous movements: a shuffling gait as well as flexed posture and impaired balance are also prominent.
The appearance of Parkinson's patient is instantly recognizable and easily unforgettable. Parkinson's usually continues over a longer period of time and its symptoms gets worse with time. After these symptoms, patients have difficulty in walking, talking and completing other tasks. It is not necessary that every person suffered from Parkinson disease have the same symptoms. Other symptoms which not necessarily present in every Parkinson's patient include:
• Speech Impairment: approximately 60% to 90% patients of Parkinson's have this symptom.
• Dysphagia: in this symptom patient have difficulty in swallowing and chewing. This symptom affects half of the PD patient.
• Skin problem and sleep disruption
• Constipation and weight loss.
Parkinson disease is caused by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the Substantia Nigra Par Compacta region of brain. It has been found by researchers that L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-Dopa), the precursor of dopamine, provided a dramatic, although brief, reversal of symptoms. Till now L-Dopa is the gold standard for treating Parkinson's. L-Dopa in combination with carbidopa has proved to be more effective in treating Parkinson's. Even with the development of newer and more effective antiparkinsonian drugs, the benefits of drug therapy usually begin to wane after about 3 years; and troublesome side effects develop in the form of motor response fluctuations and drug related dyskinesias. Amantadine, an antiviral drug has also proved to be effective in treating this disorder. These drugs are not helpful in overcoming tremor and rigidity. For treating tremors and rigidity anticholinergics have found to be beneficial. Research in Parkinson disease was recently revitalized by discovery that drug addict exposed to the meperdine derivative 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6 tetrahrdyopyridine (MPTP) develops a profound parkinsonian state. This observation led to intense investigation of the role of exogenous toxins in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease.
Impact of current biotech products:
Biotech companies are working hard on drug discovery for Parkinson's patients. Some of the products discovered include:
• Neurocell-PD: this product has proved to be useful in treating Parkinson's patient. Neurocell-PD was discovered by Genzyme Corporation and Diacrin Inc. The treatment involves implantation of fetal pig cell in the brain. In 1999, Food drug and administration (FDA) has designated Neurocell-PD a "fast track product".
• NIL-A: this product was first discovered by Amgen Inc and Guilford Pharmaceutical. Inc. This is the first orally active small molecule that cross blood brain barrier. NIL-A works by inducing nerve growth and repair in brain cells. NIL-A has proved to be most effective drug in Parkinson's treatment.
• Spheramine: this product was discovered by Titan Pharmaceuticals. Inc. Spheramine consists of dopamine producing Human retinal Pigment Epithelial cells. These cells are designed to implant into patients brain. As soon as the cells are implanted, neurons become active and start producing dopamine. This is also the most beneficial product for Parkinson's treatment.
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