Researchers from the University of Copenhagen discovered that activating a specific group of neurons in the brain responsible for controlling motor movement is effective in restoring movement in mice with Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms.
According to study authors Débora Masini and Ole Kiehn, the implications of these findings suggest that using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) “in the right therapeutic spot” may help improve current treatments of some motor symptoms in those living with Parkinson’s.
The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications last month
Nearly 10 million people worldwide are affected by Parkinson’s Dieseae
Parkinson’s disease is commonly treated with oral medication; however, later-stage motor difficulties are more difficult to control and frequently do not respond well to medical treatment, according to Masini.
To address this, some Parkinson’s disease treatment plans include DBS, a type of surgical treatment in which a small metal wire is implanted inside the brain and used to send electrical pulses to specific areas. This type of treatment is effective for tremors, but it has been shown to be less effective for symptoms such as walking difficulties.
However, doctors and researchers have long hypothesised that stimulating more targeted neurons in the brain, such as those in the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN), could more effectively alleviate Parkinson’s patients’ walking difficulties.
The findings of the animal study at the University of Copenhagen lend credence to this hypothesis.
The study discovered that when specific neurons in the PPN in animals with Parkinson’s disease symptoms, such as walking difficulties, were stimulated, the animals were able to walk normally for longer distances than before the stimulation. According to the researchers, “these excitatory neurons in the caudal PPN are an ideal target for recovery of movement loss.”
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen hope that their findings will help physicians target DBS treatment more effectively in their own Parkinson’s patients suffering from the disease’s debilitating locomotive effects.