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Nanotech drug holds promise for treating Parkinson’s

A pressing demographic issue with Parkinson’s disease is that as populations age through improved lifestyles, the number of people suffering with the diseases, globally, is expected to rise. This places a new imperative on the hunt for medicines to control, or even to cure, the neurodegenerative disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system. The condition is triggered by aggregates that lead to loss of nerve cells. Symptoms include hand shaking or difficulty walking.

The drug is based on one of the chemical features of Parkinson’s — that people with the disease lack dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is needed for nerve cells to communicate with each other. It is therefore essential for controlled body movements. Where levels are low, this leads to the characteristic shaking and mobility problems associated with the disease.

The new nanotech drug works, according to the research note, by effectively delivering dopamine to the brain. The trick is doing so in a way that maintains the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (which avoids pathogens reaching the brain.) The trick, the studies on rats indicate, is to combine dopamine with biodegradable nanoparticles. These particles can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier and release the drug without leading to infection or triggering side-effects.

With the success of trials in rate, further studies will be carried out with primates. Eventually a drug delivery system suitable for use with people could be created and put into use.

The study into the drug was led by Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi, Kavita Seth, Kailash Chand Gupta, who are based at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. The research has been published in the journal ACS Nano. The paper is titled “Trans-Blood Brain Barrier Delivery of Dopamine-Loaded Nanoparticles Reverses Functional Deficits in Parkinsonian Rats.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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