Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition where people with the disease don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things.
However, doctors from the Royal Melbourne Hospital recently successfully injected stem cells onto the brain of a 64-year old Parkinson’s Disease patient.
This operation, the first of its kind, marks a positive step towards developing better Parkinson’s treatment.
The stem cell injection, the researchers hope, would boost the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Parkinson’s is known to exhibit symptoms of “tremor, rigidity, and being unable to express emotions, affecting walking. All of those functions are mediated by dopamine,” Dr. Nair, , a neurosurgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, explained. If successful, patients would display improvement in these areas.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
The symptoms most often associated with Parkinson’s affect movement. These are often called motor symptoms.However, there are other symptoms that aren’t related to movement, such as pain and depression. These are known as non-motor symptoms.
These symptoms include:tremor, rigidity, slow movement,eye problems,fatigue,freezing, bladder & bowel problems and eye problems.
Parkinson’s Disease Incidence
It’s been noted that approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50.
The use of stem cells in medical treatment is largely controversial because of ethical concerns, particularly with embryonic stem cells. The procedure, however, does not present an ethical problem. The stem cells used were created using neural cells in a lab of a biotech company in California.
“So the beauty of this technique is that this is an unfertilized egg activated in a lab, so there are no ethical issues surrounding this to be used as mainstream treatment down the line,” said an optimistic Dr. Nair.
It’s not easy to diagnose Parkinson’s as there are no laboratory tests so it’s important that the diagnosis is made by a specialist. The specialist examines the person for any physical signs of Parkinson’s and takes a detailed history of the symptoms they’re experiencing.
If you’d like to have a consultation with us about Parkinson’s Disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us.