Research of Parkinson’s disease (PD) has significantly advanced the understanding of the disorder, creating hope that soon achieving the means to restore motor function. While an effective cure and the means to prevent PD are still some years off, scientists now see the goal as achievable.
Many research studies and clinical trials for Parkinson’s seek to leverage doctors’ growing understanding of genetics to identify the exact mutations occurring in inherited and spontaneous cases. Scientists have identified some variations in cellular DNA associated with increased risk of PD and are working to determine the exact mechanism at work. These efforts continue to contribute to improvements in diagnosis and show promising potential new drug therapies.
Ongoing research and clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease investigate a variety of aspects of causes, processes and treatment therapies. Factors being examined include
- Environmental toxins such as herbicides and pesticides and poisons in job settings
- Consumption of caffeine and other substances
- Excitotoxicity, or over stimulation of nerve cells
- The effects of inflammation related to HIV, Alzheimer’s disease and ALS
- Biomarkers that could reliably predict PD
- Deep brain stimulation therapies
- Use of drug treatments
- Effectiveness of vitamin B-12 and other dietary supplements
- Replacement of damaged cells
- Stem cell therapy
- Vaccines that modify the immune system to protect nerve cells
- Gene therapy
Some research depends on the ability to examine the brain tissue of people who had Parkinson’s. Donors of this tissue are constantly being sought and help contribute to studies that may one day eliminate Parkinson’s disease.