April 2021 is the official Parkinson’s awareness month – since Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the core areas where ki:elements creates value for research and patients we want to do our part to educate about this disease and dispel common preconceptions. This year’s theme of the awareness month is #KnowMorePD. Due to this theme, the primary goal of the Parkinson’s Foundation and the awareness month/day is to raise awareness of PD, to gain more attention from society, researchers, scientists and health professionals. In order to help and improve the life of people with Parkinson’s Disease.
PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder today, the first most common being Alzheimer’s disease. PD has a prevalence from 41 to 1900 per 100,000 in people in the age of 40 to over 80 years of age. PD cardinal symptoms are resting tremor, bradykinesia* and rigidity. However, non-motor difficulties such as cognitive impairment are also evident (Arsland et al., 2017). The onset of related neurodegeneration is likely to occur years before any motor symptoms appear (R. Cacabelos, 2017).
Parkinson’s neurodegeneration and pathology is primarily associated with a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the nigrostriatal system (Arsland et al., 2017). In more detail, the direct inhibitory pathway from the striatum to parts of the globus pallidus and substantia nigra are reduced, enhancing their inhibitory effects on the thalamus. As a result, the inhibited thalamus has less excitatory effect on the cortex, leading to reduced cortex activity and movement (Wichmann & DeLong, 2003).
In 1960, the introduction of levodopa (l-DOPA), a precursor of dopamine which passes through the brain, was a breakthrough in the treatment of PD (Abbott, 2010). It is still the most effective and therefore mostly used symptomatic therapy in PD. Several medium-term (3-5 years) and long term (10-years) studies showed that diagnosed PD patients who are treated with this dopamine precursor showed reduced signs of dyskinesia within the first five years of their treatment. (Katzenschlager, Lees 2002) Nevertheless, the long term treatment with the levodopa (l-DOPA) or other drugs can have extensive side effects.
There are other types of PD treatment, besides levodopa (l-DOPA), like deep brain stimulation or physiotherapy (Oertel & Schulz, 2016). The innovative bioproduct E-PodoFavalin-15999 (Atremorine®) is a new alternative, it is obtained by structural components of a plant, the Vicia faba L., a flowering plant which is part of the bean family. Preclinical studies and clinical trials have been testing the use of the E-PodoFavalin-15999 and showed promissing results (Carzo et al., 2016).
In the time of technology revolution and digitalisation, other alternatives for the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease could be enhanced through the use of technological resources. These range from diagnostics with speech to virtual reality in therapy to train motor cognitive integration (Ganning et al., 2020).
* slowed voluntary motor activity