New research coming to light about how Parkinson’s disease progresses is helping scientists better understand the complex proteins involved. Just unveiled in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research titled, “Translation of the intrinsically disordered protein α-synuclein is inhibited by a small molecule targeting its structured mRNA,” illuminates a barrier that could be put in place to prevent the progression of Parkinson’s.
Knowing that Parkinson’s disease and dementia both could be caused by elevated levels of a-synuclein, a protein located in the brain, scientists thought on a much, much, smaller scale to find a solution. Instead of trying to manipulate the protein that could cause Parkinson’s directly, scientists looked to encode or program another molecule to change its behavior towards the protein.
An exciting advance for science and Parkinson’s patients, researchers said, “This strategy is a potentially promising way to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and related neurological disorders.”
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, almost one million individuals will have Parkinson’s disease by 2020, more than those with muscular dystrophy, ALS and MS combined, making this discovery a fantastic step towards the future of care.
Marijuana And Parkinson’s Disease
Also getting noticed for its potential effects on Parkinson’s disease is marijuana, which is being investigated both in labs and throughout the country to see if it may alleviate symptoms and give a better quality of life to patients. The Parkinson’s Foundation recently launched an initiative to study its members’ views on marijuana and gain insight from the community on its effects.
Explaining the importance of the study, Parkinson’s Foundation Chief Scientific Officer, James Beck, Ph.D., explained, “When it comes to research, this is an unexplored area that has the potential to treat Parkinson’s symptoms.”
Held after the organization held its first-annual medical marijuana research conference in March 2019, the foundation shared results from an earlier study in understanding how patients use cannabis.
According to their study:
- 80% of patients with PD have used cannabis
- 23% of doctors received formal education on medical marijuana
- 95% of neurologists have been asked to prescribe medical marijuana
Research in the past decade has showcased possible benefits and risks of cannabis for individuals with Parkinson’s and Dementia. One study, published five years ago in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found no benefits for tremors but possible help for tics associated with the disease.
A 2019 study published in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience on marijuana and Parkinson’s may sum it up best: While Parkinson’s has many of the same debilitating conditions for patients, each human body reacts differently to medicine and more research is needed. With small sample sizes of studies and a cited lack of standardized clinical outcomes, many organizations like the Parkinson’s Foundation have taken to beginning their own non-scientific research, rather than waiting for approval from the FDA.
What might CBD do for Parkies?
CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis plant and is commonly sold in oils and foods. Depending on the product, CBD could potentially treat pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and inflammation, among other issues. Additionally, research suggests that CBD potentially could be useful for other conditions, including improving well-being and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
The use of CBD is legally gray, as marijuana is illegal at the federal level. However, the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized the use of CBD produced via the cultivation of hemp with THC levels below 0.3 percent.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD generally has relaxing effects. Users do not feel “stoned” or intoxicated.
CBD has shown potential in early studies for reducing dyskinetic activity in people with PD and treating motor symptoms in various neurodegenerative conditions.
According to a 2018 review study published by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, “Cannabidiol is a non-psychotomimetic compound from Cannabis sativa that presents antipsychotic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.”
Data also suggest that CBD could potentially play a protective role in the treatment of certain movement disorders. Results are promising, but further studies are needed to clarify the efficacy of CBD.
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