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Controlling Neurons May Ease Parkinson's Disease

Blocking or eliminating a specific potassium channel in a small group of brain cells may improve or prevent the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that afflicts over 1 million people in the United States. In Parkinson's disease, neurons that release dopamine die. The loss of dopamine causes an array of debilitating symptoms that include resting tremor, muscle rigidity and slowed movement. Although the cause of the disease remains uncertain, James Surmeier and colleagues at Northwestern University have discovered a way of potentially lessening the symptoms and progression of the disease. The investigators describe their findings in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience.<

Caffeine and Estrogen Affect Parkinson's Disease Risk in Postmenopausal Women

Women who consume little or no caffeine, but who take hormone replacement therapy, may reduce their risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the March 11 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. However, HRT may increase disease risk in women who drink the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee per day.

Controlling 'badly' behaving neurons may ease Parkinson's disease

Blocking or eliminating a specific potassium channel in a small group of brain cells may improve or prevent the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that afflicts over 1 million people in the United States. In Parkinson's disease, neurons that release dopamine die. The loss of dopamine causes an array of debilitating symptoms that include resting tremor, muscle rigidity and slowed movement.

New Tool for Studying Animal Models of Neurological, Psychiatric Diseases

U.S. government scientists have demonstrated that a miniature positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, known as microPET, and the chemical markers used in traditional PET scanning are sensitive enough to pick up subtle differences in neurochemistry between known genetic variants of mice. This "proof-of-principle" experiment "opens up a whole new, non-invasive way to study and follow transgenic or genetically engineered strains of mice that serve as animal models for human neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease or psychiatric diseases such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders," said Panayotis (Peter) Thanos, lead author of the study.

Hibernating Squirrels Provide Clues for Stroke, Parkinson’s

A compound that enables squirrels to hibernate may one day help minimize brain damage that results from stroke. In an animal model for stroke, delta opioid peptide reduced by as much as 75 percent the damage to the brain's striatum, the deeper region of the brain and a major target for strokes, according to researchers. In fact, evidence suggests that the compound, which puts cells in a temporary state of suspended animation, may help protect brain cells from the ravages of Parkinson's disease as well.

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