While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, recent research has led to improved treatments.
Scientists and doctors are working together to find a treatment or prevention technique. Research is also seeking to understand who is more likely to develop the disease. In addition, scientists are studying the genetic and environmental factors that increase the chance of a diagnosis.
Here are the latest treatments for this progressive neurological disorder.
Deep Brain Stimulation
In 2002, the FDA approved deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. But advances in DBS were limited because only one company was approved to make the device used for the treatment.
In June 2015, the FDA approved the Brio Neurostimulation System. This implantable device helped reduce symptoms by generating small electrical pulses throughout the body.
Researchers haven’t yet found a sure way to cure Parkinson’s, slow its progression, or reverse the brain damage it causes. Gene therapy has the potential to do all three. Several studies have found that gene therapy can be a safe and effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Aside from gene therapies, researchers are also developing neuroprotective therapies. This type of therapy could help stop the progression of the disease and prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Doctors have few tools for evaluating the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Staging, while useful, only monitors the progression of motor symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. Other grading scales exist, but they’re not used widely enough to be recommend as a general guideline.
However, a promising area of research may make evaluating Parkinson’s disease easier and more exact. Researchers are hoping to discover a biomarker (a cell or gene) that will lead to more effective treatments.
Repairing the brain cells lost from Parkinson’s disease is a promising area of future treatment. This procedure replaces diseased and dying brain cells with new cells that can grow and multiply. But neural transplantation research has had mixed results. Some patients have improved with the treatment, while others have seen no improvement and even developed more complications.
Until a cure for Parkinson’s disease is discovered, medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes can help those with the condition live a better life.