Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative health condition that affects the central nervous system. The disease is caused by the progressive death of brain cells that contain dopamine. But the reason behind the cell death remains unknown and researchers are far from finding a cure for the disease.
A study conducted by researchers from Saint Louise University found that the series of events that lead to the development of Parkinson’s Disease can be due to the production of a natural brain toxin. The researchers suggest that DOPAL can play a key role in the death of dopamine neurons.
The same team of researchers previously theorized already that DOPAL can be the culprit for killing dopamine cells which results in the onset and development of Parkinson’s disease. And their follow-up study conducted on animal models gave them sufficient evidence to believe that DOPAL is indeed the cause of the disorder. Parkinson’s disease affects 2 percent of people aged 65 and around 4 percent of people 85 years and older. Studies on the disease had already established that it is caused by the significant reduction of dopamine levels in the brain. But no one knows exactly what is causing the phenomenon.
The SLU researchers led by Michael Panneton, Ph.D. said that their study offers new opportunities in better understanding the disease. The researchers believe that DOPA triggers the the complex chain of brain reactions that ends at killing dopamine neurons, thus providing a new approach to finding a cure for the disease.
There is no proven cure to Parkinson’s disease. For decades, medications are limited to temporarily relieving the symptoms by increasing the patient’s dopamine level. But this approach does not stop the death of dopamine neurons. With the knowledge of what is causing the cells to die, researchers now have new avenues for finding a cure for the degenerative disease.