Have you ever wondered why the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease differ dramatically between two people with the disease?
Researches in Denmark found the reason – Parkinson’s is two different diseases: one that develops first in the intestines and moves to the brain and one that occurs first in the brain and moves to the intestines. The professor and the doctor who conducted the research used advanced MRI and PET scans and learned that some patients had damage to the brain’s dopamine system before any damage occurred in the heart or intestines. In other patients, the disease’s path began in the intestines before showing signs in the brain. The researchers refer to the two types of Parkinson’s as body-first and brain-first.
What is exciting about this knowledge is that research and treatment can develop in a more personalized approach depending on the individual’s disease pattern. Future research can help determine if those patients with body-first Parkinson’s can receive intestinal treatment to combat the disease. Brain-first may be more complicated since symptoms may not show up for twenty years, a time when it may be too late to slow the disease.
In current estimates, fifteen million people will develop Parkinson’s disease by the year 2050. As research develops, it will encourage a personalized approach for each patient. New research allows us to focus on the good news that is developing.