Studies on Parkinson’s

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At present I am studying genesis of Parkinson’s disease. For the last few months I have been gathering data about this particular illness. I have found alot of interesting information which I would like to share.
Present-day treatment bases on elevating dopamine – movement control neurotransmitter – levels in synapses using L-DOPA precursor, which is wrong, as this way of dimnishing effects of disease damages the brains reward pathway and movement control regions. Levels of this neurotransmitter are lower than needed to stimulate the nerves properly. Patients receive a precursor called Levodopa, from which the dopamine is synthesized. The synapses – connections between nerves – are then flooded with it, properly stimulating the cell, but within a few years side effects begin to appear. You can compare it to an electrical component that is getting more than safe voltage. It soon becomes overheat and starts to malfunction. It is a very short-term remedy, thus further investigation is necessary.
It had been proven that low dopamine levels are just a symptom of the disease. Alan Crossman proved that the real base lies deep inside the brain. He researched the influence of MDMA on human brain with Tim Lawrence. The drug instantly relieved the sudden, violent movements caused by use of Levodopa. He explored the brain functioning under influence of the substance and found out that hypothalamus, a very small part of brain which is close to the main dopamine producing region, is excessively active in Parkinson’s disease. This discovery led to treatment based on surgical influence on this particular place. Unfortunately, this way of healing is very dangerous and not always successful. It may lead to depression, blurred vision, paralysis and even death, thus it is used as a last resort.
Further investigation showed that the neurotransmitter working in hypothalamus is serotonin. Scientists also proved that substances elevating levels of it, like MDMA, dimnished effects of the disease. At last, they examined the placebo effect. Tim could fluently move under influence of the drug, which finally proved their thesis.
This leads us to a new era of treating Parkinson’s disease. MDMA can not be used, because it causes way too many unwanted side effects. This substance only initiated research, which proved different genesis of illness than we thought. On the other hand, prohibition complicates studies on a safer remedy. Only Tim examined the drug on this disease. People are not keen about funding studies on illegal drug as a medicine, which makes it more difficult to help the sick.
How will ill people cope? What will the future bring?
Further research is what has to be done.

Sources used:
http://www.ecstasy.org/info/parkinsons.html – Tim Lawrence on MDMA
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/ecstasyagony_transcript.shtml – Transcript of document about research with Tim
http://www.maps.org/media/nytimes-parkinsons.html
- More about research with Tim
http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/23/27/9107?ck=nck – Scientific information about serotonin receptors and MDMA

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