Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Parkinson's - part two: Hunt on for early predictors

By Syed Akbar
Parkinson's disease can be identified at an early stage with the help of biomarkers or early predictors. This helps in early diagnosis and treatment for this neurological problem that affects mostly the old. But
the major task before researchers is how to identify those biomarkers or early predictors.
Health researchers world wide are now busy in finding out those molecules or substances inside cells or body fluids that tell us how severe is the problem.
If researchers succeed in identifying those biomarkers, it will be easier to predict whether a person may get Parkinson’s disease. In case of those already suffering from the problem, the biomarkers will help in
monitoring the progression of the condition. The other important therapeutic use of biomarkers is to test drugs that can slow or stop the development of Parkinson’s.
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What is Parkinson's disease ?
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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. It is a degenerative disorder and progresses with time. Parkinson's or PD is the most common movement disorder with a
median age of onset of about 55 years. The symptoms include impaired ability to adjust the body position, rigidity and tremor. Some of the patients also suffer from non-motor symptoms like cognitive (thinking
ability) decline and disturbances of autonomic nervous functions.
About 40 lakh people in India suffer from Parkinson's disease. It is not clear what triggers Parkinson's in a person. And scientists are yet to understand the cause and pathogenic mechanisms behind Parkinson's
disease, though some vital information on the problem has been obtained in the last two decades. Some attribute it to genetic factors.
Researchers are now moving to the next step after finding genes that influence the risk for a condition. Work is now on to piece together the picture of what those genes do, and how variations in these genes may
lead to a process which causes the disease.

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