The Challenge of Curing Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition which for reasons that are unknown begins to kill a certain type of brain cell that produces a chemical called dopamine, which is critical for the cells talking to each other. You die with Parkinson's disease. But if you see their obituaries, they usually say something like, patient died of as a complication of Parkinson disease.

That usually means they fall or break a hip, they end up in the hospital, they get an infection like pneumonia or sepsis and they die or they're swallowing become so labored, they aspirate, get an infection because a moment so if you are on top of the complications that [xx], you will die of [xx].

Deeper insinuation is essentially a pacemaker of the brain, it's very similar to a cardiac pacemaker. We put small electrodes the size of angel hair pasta into the deep nuclei of the brain that are involved in Parkinson's disease, connected to a little generator in the chest wall and program some of the symptoms out.

Well, at any one time, there's usually about 300 Parkinson's disease drugs being investigated, and I would say every five years maybe six, one comes to market, but it's just been very discouraging that the most potent drug that we have for Parkinson's disease was developed in 1967 and still to this day, remains the most portent and used drug for this disease without us having us to discover anything better.

What I tell patients that I have newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, they must often want to know about financial, end of life or advanced disease planning, and I tell them that we should all be doing that, whether we've been diagnosed with a chronic disease or not. I think in order to retain neuron function, you have to exercise the neurons.

Just like if you don't use it you lose it with the muscles, if you remain sedentary and those muscle fibers are never firing, I believe that the brain is a similar organism in that if you are not stimulating those synaptic connections, they could be lost at a higher rate. It's not proven, but I have just seen that anecdotely in my clinic.

I still think that it as we develop biomarkers, we probably are going to come with a prevention, so that patients don't get the disease at all and that will be optimal, so we have a vaccine or some sort of early interventions, that we scan prevent the disease [xx] and that's what most researchers are working on very hard right now is to find the biomarker because by the time you're diagnosed with the disorder, you've already lost 80% of your neurons.

So we need to figure out how to diagnose it before the symptoms emerge.