Scientific breakthroughs are hurtling down the tracks a mile a minute, and the medical world is a real stand-out star in scientific realms. Huge strides are being made in order to diagnose, treat, and cure a great many diseases. However, one key element that scientists are focusing on right now is the prevention of disease, which they hope will eventually eliminate the need for treatment at all. And when it comes to debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, this work is incredibly important. Recent research about the role of the gut in Parkinson's disease is making waves in the medical world, and it could mean big things for Parkinson's disease sufferers.
The study, which was published in a special supplement of the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, was undertaken by Dr. Filip Scheperjans, Ph.D., of the Department of Neurology at the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland. Scheperjans chose to research the connection between the gut and Parkinson's disease in order to understand more about of the illness, and to help improve treatments for it.
Scheperjans told Medical News Today:
"Better understanding the role of the gut in [Parkinson's disease] will help us to understand the origin of the disease and to improve treatments. There is accumulating evidence that at least in some patients, the origin of the disease may lie in the gut with possible involvement of abnormal protein aggregates, local inflammation, and the gut microbiome."
So, in layman's terms, it looks like Parkinson's disease may actually begin in the gut, and perhaps diagnosing it earlier may stop the illness in its tracks. However, this research is in its infancy and Dr Scheperjans feels that his project has proven that more research is needed: "[F]urther studies into the role of the gut in [Parkinson's] are important and may reveal new possibilities for diagnosis and treatment," he said.
But what actually is Parkinson's disease? According to the NHS, Parkinson's disease is "a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years." Symptoms include tremors, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles, and they can be incredibly debilitating for those suffering from the disease. Sadly, there is currently no cure for the disease, but treatment options are available for those affected.
Famous sufferers of the disease include British comedian Billy Connolly, boxer Muhammed Ali, and the sadly deceased Robin Williams. Actor Michael J Fox, who you probably know best from the Back To The Future movie franchise, also suffers from the disease, and has been particularly involved in publicising his own experiences with it. He has set up a charitable foundation called The Michael J Fox foundation, and their mission statement makes it clear why he was voted philanthropist of the year last year by Variety:
"The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today."
Although research on the link between the gut and Parkinson's is in its early stages, this kind of continued progress can only be a good thing,