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Can Parkinson’s Disease Be Cured? Progress in Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects motor function. The disease is relatively common, and it usually affects seniors. Thanks to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, many people with the condition are able to manage their symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease was first described more than 200 years ago by James Parkinson. Unfortunately, there’s no cure yet for Parkinson’s disease. However, modern treatments can help people with the condition significantly reduce and manage their symptoms. New treatments are constantly being developed to improve the quality of life and prognosis for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Scientists use genetic and molecular techniques to understand more about Parkinson’s disease and the mutations associated with it. Researchers have also theorized that gut microbiota, which play a vital role in neurodevelopment, may be linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Abnormal proteins, such as α-synuclein, have also been linked to the condition.

Advancements have focused on understanding and treating the early, pre-symptomatic phases of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have developed less-invasive technologies, such as focused ultrasound or gamma knife procedures, for people with Parkinson’s disease. These technologies can pinpoint and treat focal lesions in the brain without affecting healthy tissue.

Other studies focus on finding new medications that can cross the blood–brain barrier to deliver drugs more effectively into affected tissues. 

Oxidative stress and free radicals cause cumulative damage to our cells over time. Researchers speculate that this may also contribute to the disease. Some antioxidants, such as coenzyme Q10, may help prevent this damage and enhance cell and mitochondrial function. For this reason, some researchers are focusing on nanomedicines that deliver antioxidants as alternative therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

Some people believe that certain natural treatments could also help manage this condition. More research is needed to determine if these treatments are effective, though. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, could protect cells affected by Parkinson’s disease. Curcumin is an antioxidant, and antioxidants help your body get rid of free radicals and prevent the damage they cause.

Resveratrol is another compound that could help protect the brain from the damage caused by oxidative stress that leads to neurodegeneration and Parkinson’s disease. However, this medication is still being researched to determine if and how effective it is.

Researchers are investigating other treatments for Parkinson’s disease, including therapies that prevent the expression of the abnormal α-syn protein, targeted gene therapy, medications meant to reduce dyskinesia (abnormal, involuntary movements), transplantation of cells that produce dopamine, and new neuroprotective medications.

Research has also found that iron levels in the brain could help predict future cases of Parkinson’s dementia. Iron accumulation in the brain has been linked to impaired memory and other thinking processes. These findings could help determine which patients with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk of developing complications.

New technology-based approaches, such as sensors, mobile apps, and video assessment methods, are also currently in development. These methods could help measure the severity of different motor symptoms, such as gait patterns, posture changes, tremors, and dyskinesia, improving early diagnosis and assessment of the disease. However, these modern technologies may not be readily available for everyone who could benefit from them because of their high cost.

Although there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, health care providers can prescribe different treatments to manage symptoms and maintain quality of life for people with this disease.

Medications can help manage the symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease. These medications include:

  • Medications that increase the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter found in the brain
  • Medications that alter the levels of other chemicals found in the brain
  • Medications that help manage non-motor symptoms of the disease, such as sleep disturbances, narcolepsy, dementia, and hallucinations

In some cases, people whose symptoms don’t respond to medications can benefit from a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation (DBS). 

During DBS, the surgeon will implant electrodes into specific areas of the brain. These electrodes are then connected to a small electrical device. The electrodes send small electrical pulses into the brain, painlessly stimulating neurons in order to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

Health care providers typically recommend DBS for people with advanced Parkinson’s disease who don’t respond well to medications. DBS can help stabilize someone’s response to medications, reduce involuntary movements, improve slow movements, and decrease tremors and rigidity. Despite these benefits, it’s important to remember that DBS can’t cure or stop the progress of Parkinson’s disease.

Every case of Parkinson’s disease has unique characteristics, which is why it’s so important for treatment to be tailored to each individual. Thanks to new treatments, people with this condition are often able to manage their symptoms and increase their quality of life.

It’s important to discuss different treatments for Parkinson’s disease with your health care provider, discuss your expectations, and work together to find the treatment option for Parkinson’s disease that works best for you.

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