AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Balance and Movement Improved in Animal Model of Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers at UCLA have developed a molecular compound that improves balance and coordination in mice with early stage Parkinson’s disease. Further, the drug, called CLR01, reduced the amount of a toxic protein in the brain that is thought to be one of the prime culprits in the development of the disorder. Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. It’s estimated that as many as 1 million Americans live with Parkinson’s, and that roughly 60,000 are diagnosed with it each year. There is no cure. The disease is chronic and progressive and over time can worsen from tremors in a person’s hands and slow movements, to impaired balance and coordination and, ultimately, overall rigidity of the body, including difficulty swallowing and speaking. While the cause is not known, growing evidence points to the protein alpha-synuclein. The protein binds together in “clumps,” called aggregates, becoming toxic and killing brain neurons that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter needed to send signals among neurons involved in controlling movements.

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