Running head: new research on neurodegenarative disease 1 Essay

Running head: new research on neurodegenarative disease 1

new research on neurodegenarative disease 8

New research on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases hint to a cure or effective treatment

Andijani, Ameen

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Every year that passes by, more people wonder and wait for news about a cure for their loved ones. Ones who suffer from Early-onset Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, or Parkinson’s disease. This paper summarizes the progress of the research on neurodegenerative diseases and the likeliness of finding an effective treatment. Getting closer to an answer provides hope that a cure is soon to be found. The problem with these diseases is that it is known to be incurable, loss of memory caused by dementia, loss of muscle control and movement, or unending tremors that fry the brain. The most intriguing research on Alzheimer’s suggests a potential breakthrough soon as an experimental drug heads into clinical trial, a drug that targets Alzheimer’s pathogens directly. While improvement on current existing drugs for Parkinson’s are minimizing the side effects by thirds or completely neutralize the disease using stem cells to develop drug therapy.

Keywords: Neurodegenerative Disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, cure, treatment.

New research on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases hint to a cure or effective treatment

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Most Common Neurodegenerative Diseases

Anyone who suffers from or knows people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases know how devastating it is. Neurodegenerative diseases target nerves in the brain and destroy them, causing serious symptoms and death. The infamous neurodegenerative disease that still has no cure is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is devastating since the age of someone who has Alzheimer’s starts showing symptoms depends on the onset of Alzheimer’s. Other devastating diseases associated with nerve degeneration is Huntington’s disease, which is a very dangerous and painful. Parkinson’s disease, which is another disease that isn’t fatal by itself, but its symptoms make everyday injuries fatal. What these diseases are and how they are caused along its symptoms and current progress on research finding a cure is discussed on this paper.


Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease (A disease that destroys nerve cells and its connections) that is widely known, and one of the more common types of neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer’s cause is believed to be genetic, the specific gene, however, is still unknown. The gene apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene on chromosome 19 is associated with late-onset form of the disease, and it increases the chances of acquiring Alzheimer’s. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is dementia which is the only top 10 highest cause of death without any treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression. While other symptoms include mental decline, agitation, anger, mood swings, depression, self-care difficulty, and the inability to combine muscle movement. Alzheimer’s is the main cause of dementia, which is the only top 10 highest cause of death without any treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression.

Types of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is divided into 2 types depending on its onset (The time symptoms start to show), there is early and late onset Alzheimer’s. Early-onset Alzheimer’s usually occurs to people in their early 50’s or 40’s. This type of Alzheimer’s is very rare, occurring only in about 5% of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, while people who suffer from Down Syndrome are at a higher risk of it. Early-onset have suggested that this type of Alzheimer’s is linked to specific part of DNA, chromosome 14. It is more common for those suffering from early-onset to develop myoclonus, a form of muscle twitching and spasm. A small part of those who suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s suffer from Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), a type of Alzheimer’s that doctors are confident is linked to heredity, covering less than 1% of all Alzheimer’s cases. On the other hand, late-onset Alzheimer’s is the most common form of Alzheimer’s, which occurs in people who are 65 years or older. Not much is known about this type. No genetic links have been found, and whether families play a role or not is still unknown. So far, no one really knows why some get it and some don’t.

Effects on the brain

The brain consists of billions of neurons (nerve cells) that interact together in a big communication web via chemical and electrical signals. Neurons are responsible for sending messages between the different regions of the brain, and from the brain to muscle nerves and other organs of the body. Alzheimer’s cut’s this communication among neurons, causing a loss in function and cell death. Alzheimer’s disease slowly destroys the brain, it causes abnormal deposits of misfolded proteins which form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout different regions in the brain, killing neurons along with their connections. These plaques are caused by misfolded proteins, leaving deposits in the brain that disrupts the connection among neurons. These plaques stop neurons from signaling properly, and the tangles at the end of neurons which are twisted strands of protein destroy vital cell transport system which means nutrients and other supplies do not reach the cells, thus the cell dies. At first, the disease destroys neurons in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus, the memory center. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex such as the superior posterior temporal lobe, more specifically Broca’s area, the frontal lobe, and parietal lobe, affecting language, reasoning, and social behavior respectfully. Over time, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s will gradually start losing the ability to live and function independently, since the disease will keep causing plaques on different parts of the brain until it ultimately kills the person. The difference between a normal healthy human brain and a brain of someone with Alzheimer’s is that the Alzheimer’s is shrunk, and is tangled and has a smaller cerebral cortex structure. This is due to the disease killing the neurons in our brain, which unlike normal cells, can’t be recreated. (

Oligomer protein irradiation to potentially Cure Alzheimer’s

A research conducted at the University of Oxbridge by a team of international scientists has found a suggested method to prevent dementia or to cure Alzheimer’s completely. This method takes another approach from past proposed treatments. Unlike earlier research that focuses on treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, this proposed method attacks the pathogen head on. The brain has an effective control system to get rid of potentially dangerous plaques. As we age, the brain is less able to do this job as effectively thus leading to disease, slowly accumulating plaques in the brain like junk. The plaques are caused by the misfolding of proteins called protein oligomers. Usually, these proteins help the brain process its work, but when someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, these proteins go rogue, forming clumps and kill healthy neurons. The study shows that there is a possibility to find compounds to target the toxic oligomers that cause the neurodegenerative disease and also increase the potency in a rational manner. Now making it possible to design molecules that have specified effects based on the stage of disease, with hope to convert these molecules into drugs used for clinical environments. (Chia. S)

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (also called Parkinsonism), is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain is what is known as Parkinson’s Disease o PD. This disorder has affects around 1.4% of the human population, or roughly 10 million people around the world. ( Its prevalence in the U.S has raised concerns since the actual cause of PD is yet to be determined. Some argue it is caused by genetic heredity, some think it is due to environmental factors, while some believe it is divine punishment. Symptoms of PD differs in severity depending on which state the disease is at, increasing the severity with each state.

Parkinson’s causes

Scientists speculate that PD resulting from a complex interaction of environmental and genetic factors. The sporadic cases of PD still remain unclear with no apparent indication to what caused the disease. After consecutive studies, genetic links have been established. Around 15% of PD have some form of heredity that runs in the family. Family cases of PD has been associated with genetic mutations in genes LRRK2, PARK7, PINK1, PRKN, or SNCA, or any other alteration that has yet to be identified. ( The difficult part of these finding is that mutations in these genes sometimes play a role in sporadic cases of the disease. While other genes such as GBA and UHCL1 don’t directly cause PD, it could play a role in modifying the risk for developing the condition. It is not really understood how these genes changes influences the risk of developing the disease, and many cases of PD start when certain nerve cells (neurons) in the substantia nigra die or become impaired. PD is sometimes also caused by neurological diseases, these diseases include arteriosclerotic parkinsonism, post-traumatic parkinsonism, essential tremor, and normal pressure hydrocephalus. Sometimes, PD is presented alongside other conditions such as Wilson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, spinocerebellar ataxias, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. (

Stages of PD

The stages of PD determine which symptoms are presented. The later the stage, the more developed the disease is and the more severe the symptoms are. But for most cases, excruciating pain is usually present.

Stage 1

The first stage of PD is very hard to diagnose and is a very early stage of PD. The symptoms are usually presented on one side of the body (unilateral involvement). The symptoms are very mild, and in many cases do not require medical attention or physician intervention. These symptoms could be a tremor on one hand, clumsiness on one leg, rigidity, and it can also affect facial expressions on one side of the face. In many cases, PD patients are not diagnosed in stage 1 is the physician is unable to confirm the diagnosis.

Stage 2

The second stage is still considered early disease PD, and is characterized by symptoms present on both sides (bilateral involvement) or at midline without balance impairment. Stage two is a could be developed from a couple of months to years after stage one. Symptoms of stage two PD include facial expression loss in both sides, blinking and speech abnormality (soft voice, monotone, fading levels of speech), neck or back pain caused by muscle stiffness or rigidity in movement, stooped posture, and general slowness in activity. However, during stage 2 the patient is capable of performing daily life tasks. The difficulty of diagnosis depends on the symptoms presented. Diagnosis is easy if signs of tremor is apparent, but if stage 1 was undiagnosed and the only symptoms were slowness or lack of spontaneous movement, it will be very difficult to diagnose.

Stage 3

The third stage is considered mid-stage disease, it is characterized by movement slowness and balance impairment. Because of the inability to make automatic involuntary adjustments required to prevent falling, balance is lost. Falling is quite common at this stage of PD. Symptoms include all symptoms from previous stages plus the movement impairment. Patients at this stage of the disease are still capable of independently performing their daily life activities. Diagnosis at this stage is pretty much confirmed by a test. Often a physician will stand behind the patient and gently pull the shoulders to determine if there are troubles with maintaining balance and the patient falls backward.

Stage 4

The fourth stage of PD is advanced, the condition has progressed to a disabling disease. At this stage, patients might be able to walk and stand without help, but they are noticeably weakened. Many patients use walkers for additional support. Although they may be able to walk, at this advanced stage of PD, patients at this stage are not able to live independently and require help for most of their daily living activities. One of the main signs separating stage 3 and stage 4 is the ability to live independently. If the patient is still able to live independently, the patient would still be considered at stage 3.

Stage 5

The fifth and last stage of PD is the most progressed form of the disease. At this point the patient is unable to get out of bed or get up a chair without assistance. Falling while turning or standing and stumbling when walking is very common. All-time assistance is required at this stage to perform everyday life activities, it is also not uncommon for some patients to experience hallucinations and delusions as well. With this mentioned, it is possible for a patient to not reach this stage.

The various symptoms presented at different stages are not always definitive. Some patients may show symptoms of bilateral facial impairment but no balance impairment, or unilateral tremors with balance impairment. The length of time it takes for progression differs from one patient to the other.

Some other diseases resemble PD such as multiple system atrophy, dementia with Lewy bodies, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. (


Many research projects are currently being conducted on PD. Since the actual cause is unknown, the fields being researched are numerous after the NINDS-hosted conference “Parkinson’s Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives”, where physicians and scientists gathered to discuss PD’’s highest research priorities, ranging from discoveries in the lab to new drug therapy for PD. These priorities include biomarkers, clinical studies, animal models, cognition and dementia, deep brain stimulation, environmental studies, exercise, genetic studies, mitochondria, motor complications, nerve growth factors, neuroprotective drugs, and stem cells. The one discussed today will be stem cell research for PD drug development. (


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