Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder that stops producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating one’s movement and emotions. Within PD patients, the lack of dopamine results in shaking, slow movements and postural instability. As the disease progresses, talking, walking, and even caring for oneself become increasingly difficult.
Although PD is not considered a fatal disease, complications from this disease are rated 14th on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of the top causes of death in the United States. Much research has been dedicated to finding a cure for this disease, but unfortunately, no standard treatments for those diagnosed with PD currently exist.
A recent trial tested the effectiveness of a growth-factor compound in combating PD, with some optimistic results concerning the future treatment of this health condition.
What is PDGF?
PDGF stands for platelet-derived growth factor, and trials monitoring the use of this growth-factor compound in animals have been conducted for the past 10 years. These studies in animals revealed that PDGF restored the brain’s dopamine levels and even repaired nerve fibers and neurons.
After these encouraging results, researchers from Lund University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden began this new PDGF trial for Parkinson’s patients – the first ever in human patients. A pump with an internal catheter connecting to the brain was surgically implanted into the abdomen of 12 PD patients.
Over the course of 12 days, the PDGF was delivered through the pump, and for the following 73 days, an infusion of saline was also delivered through the same pump.
Throughout the PDGF trial, no serious or irresolvable side effects appeared. Even better is the fact that the PET scans conducted four months after the PDGF treatment showed signs of an increased dopamine level. Since PD is caused by a continual loss of nerve cells, the regenerative effects of PDGF are crucial in finding a cure.
A Hopeful Future
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of PD are annually diagnosed in the United States alone, adding to the estimated 10 million people worldwide who already suffer from this condition.
But after the results of this trial were revealed, much hope has been raised for those millions of people who have been diagnosed with PD. With the results of this new PDGF trial for Parkinson’s patients, it may become possible for the brain to slow, and even stop, the progression of PD, which is something that the current treatments cannot do.
So what are the next steps now?
The research team from this PDGF trial will conduct more clinical trials with a larger number of PD patients that may take place in England, Sweden and Germany. They also hope that these larger trials will reveal why PDGF causes both the repair and regeneration of the brain’s lost structures due to PD.
Until these future trials are completed, speak with your doctor to learn more about the current treatments that dramatically relieve the symptoms associated with PD.