Finding a treatment for Parkinson's disease dementia

September 2, 2015 by Kate Bourne

University of Adelaide neuroscientists are leading a world-first study into a form of dementia experienced by many Parkinson's disease suffers, which is expected to ultimately lead to a new therapy for the condition.

Speaking in Parkinson's Awareness Week (1-7 September), Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino, from the University of Adelaide's School of Medicine, says so much remains unknown about Parkinson's disease dementia and there is an urgent need for effective treatments.

"Parkinson's disease is characterised by four major motor symptoms: resting tremor, bradykinesia (slow movement), postural instability and rigidity. In addition to the seen in Parkinson's disease, many patients also suffer from some degree of cognitive impairment, which can range from mild impairment to dementia," says Dr Collins-Praino.

"Within 20 years of diagnosis of Parkinson's disease over 80% of patients develop dementia. Parkinson's disease dementia, which includes a variety of behavioural and cognitive impairments, dramatically decreases the quality of a patient's life.

"Current pharmacological therapies for Parkinson's disease dementia have varying efficacy and may actually worsen some of the motor symptoms," she says. "Despite the growing recognition of cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease, the brain mechanisms that underlie the development of these cognitive deficits are unknown."

Dr Collins-Praino is leading a team of researchers who are looking at an association between brain inflammation and Parkinson's disease dementia.

"There is now a growing body of evidence that suggests inflammation in the brain may influence the development of cognitive impairment and dementia in Parkinson's disease," says Dr Collins-Praino.

"While increases in inflammatory markers are usually thought to be associated with negative consequences for cognition, it is also possible that certain aspects of the inflammatory response may protect the brain from damage.

"To address whether particular inflammation may actually protect the brain against in Parkinson's disease, our lab has been comparing levels of inflammation in the brain in Parkinson's patients with and without dementia.

"We've made some exciting findings and once we have a sound understanding of what is going on in the of Parkinson's sufferers, we're hoping to target those pathways to develop an effective treatment for Parkinson's disease dementia," she says.

Explore further: Research targets early symptoms of Parkinson's

Related Stories

Research targets early symptoms of Parkinson's

September 4, 2014
University of Adelaide neuroscience researchers are investigating markers for potential earlier diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Blood biomarker could mark severe cognitive decline, quicker progression among Parkinson's patients

September 18, 2013
A genetic mutation, known as GBA, that leads to early onset of Parkinson's disease and severe cognitive impairment (in about 4 to 7 percent of all patients with the disease) also alters how specific lipids, ceramides and ...

Parkinson's disease: Quickly identifying patients at risk of dementia

March 10, 2014
It may now be possible to identify the first-stage Parkinson's patients who will go on to develop dementia, according to a study conducted at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal by Dr. Oury Monchi, PhD, ...

Widespread brain atrophy detected in Parkinson's disease with newly developed structural pattern

December 12, 2011
Atrophy in the hippocampus, the region of the brain known for memory formation and storage, is evident in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with cognitive impairment, including early decline known as mild cognitive impairment ...

Test for Alzheimer's disease predicts cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease

December 12, 2011
A method of classifying brain atrophy patterns in Alzheimer's disease patients using MRIs can also detect cognitive decline in Parkinson's disease, according to a new study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine ...

Gait and dementia link confirmed

October 22, 2014
Researchers at Newcastle University have found a definitive link between gait - the way someone walks - and early changes in cognitive function in people with Parkinson's disease.

Recommended for you

Singing may be good medicine for Parkinson's patients

August 11, 2017
(HealthDay)—Singing? To benefit people with Parkinson's disease? It just may help, a researcher says.

Tracing the path of Parkinson's disease proteins

August 4, 2017
As neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease progress, misfolded proteins clump together in neurons, recruiting normal proteins in the cell to also misfold and aggregate. Cells in which this ...

Diabetes drug shows potential as disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson's disease

August 3, 2017
A drug commonly used to treat diabetes may have disease-modifying potential to treat Parkinson's disease, a new UCL-led study suggests, paving the way for further research to define its efficacy and safety.

Two new studies offer insights into gastrointestinal dysfunction in Parkinson's patients

July 31, 2017
Constipation is one of the most common non-motor related complaints affecting Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Two important studies from the same research group published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease expand the ...

New drug may treat and limit progression of Parkinson's disease

July 31, 2017
Researchers at Binghamton University have developed a new drug that may limit the progression of Parkinson's disease while providing better symptom relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of people with the disease.

A new insight into Parkinson's disease protein

July 28, 2017
Abnormal clumps of certain proteins in the brain are a prominent feature of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the role those same proteins might play in the normal brain has been unknown.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.