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Medicine Science

Researchers Neutralize Parkinson's Dopamine Killers 105

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the knowing-is-half-the-battle dept.
futurity.org writes with news that Iowa State researchers have made a breakthrough that could eventually lead to a cure for Parkinson's. Identifying the protein that kills the dopamine-producing cells in the brain has allowed the researchers to disable it and could be the first step in the development of new treatments. "Now, Kanthasamy’s group is looking for additional compounds that also can serve to neutralize protein kinase-C. By identifying more compounds that perform the function of neutralizing kinase-C, researchers are more likely to locate one that works well and has few side effects. This discovery is expected to provide new treatment options to stop the progression of the disease or even cure it. 'Once we find the compound, we need to make sure it’s safe. If everything goes well, it could take about 10 years, and then we might be able to see something that will truly make a difference in the lives of people with this disorder,' says Kanthasamy."
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Researchers Neutralize Parkinson's Dopamine Killers

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  • by afidel (530433) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:10PM (#30037370)
    Since the disease leads to paralysis then death how safe does it have to be to be effective? If the cure kills 5% of the people that take it I would think that will be less than the 10 year delay in getting a "perfect" cure out of the lab and through FDA testing.
  • by dintlu (1171159) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:12PM (#30037400)

    They say the first thing you hear about research or technology is the best thing you will ever hear about it.

    I'm not so sure "neutralizing" this kinase-C will result in any miracle cures, as the protein happens to have a lot of other uses in the body, per wikipedia:

    "Recurring themes are that PKC is involved in receptor desensitization, in modulating membrane structure events, in regulating transcription, in mediating immune responses, in regulating cell growth, and in learning and memory"

  • by lbalbalba (526209) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:24PM (#30037594)
    ... Certain typical Anti-Psychotic medicine, like Haldol [wikipedia.org], which typically exhibit the side-effect of Parkinson-like-symptoms ?
  • by icebike (68054) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:33PM (#30037734)

    Yes, it certainly would be nice.

    Especially when you consider there appear to be links between Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s.

    http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/36/20/23-a [psychiatryonline.org]

    There has been other research suggesting that understanding one of these diseases leads to avenues of research for the other.

  • by Caged (24585) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:08PM (#30038230)

    There are about 2-3 'stages' of Parkinson's medication, depending on just how much advanced the illness is at time of diagnosis. The first line of defence is the best and has good, manageable, results with relatively few side effects. The initial medication (typically L-Dopa tablets) regimen is effective for approximately the first 8-10 years, with the other stages of treatment decreasing rapidly in effectiveness plus worsening physical and mental side effects.

    Remember that treating Parkinson's is essentially tampering with brain chemistry.

    The current meds can help alleviate the symptoms of the disease, but do nothing to arrest it's progress. Eventually, the disease progresses until the drugs cannot help anymore.

  • Re:huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:31PM (#30038598) Homepage

    It might do it for you if you had the disease.

    If the side effects are more tolerable than the disease itself most people would opt to use the medicine. Waiting for perfect solutions has never really worked, especially for diseases that slowly rob you of any ability to manage your daily life.

    Indeed. If and when it comes time to do trials in humans, they can probably expect to have volunteers lined up around the block. There are certain diseases where "we don't know if this is safe" is not that big a concern.

    My godfather was in a study for an experimental treatment for a particular kind of leukemia. He was very close to entering the "acute" (as in acutely fucked) stage and the best matching marrow donor he'd found in years of searching would have left him with an under 10% chance of surviving the transplant if it came to that. He was sick and miserable thanks to his chemotherapy. So, what exactly did he have to lose? Not a whole hell of a lot. What was the outcome? The drug, as far as they could tell, cured him and everyone else in the study. All signs of leukemia vanished.

    That's a long shot to happen in any particular case, but how many people who are facing nasty death if they don't try wouldn't be willing to take it?

    On a related note, my graduate algorithms professor had a side gig of consulting for the medical industry. He related that he had worked on an algorithm for situations like this one, where as the study progresses and (assuming) the drug is showing signs of being effective you want to move people from the control group to the active group as quickly as possible while still maintaining the validity of the study. The algorithm was exponential in the size of the study, so study sizes or the ability to move people into the active group could be seriously constrained by available computing power. His optimizations (didn't change the big-O iirc) improved the performance and thus allowed larger study sizes and thus, as a result, could have literally saved lives.

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