New discovery can speed up development of Parkinson's drugs

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Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): Scientists from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research have made a novel discovery that can speed up the development of more effective Parkinson's drugs.

People with Parkinson's Disease suffer from muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement. These primary symptoms are caused by the loss of dopamine producing nerve cells in the brain.

Medicines used for treating Parkinson's either provide extra dopamine or attach to the remaining nerve cells that release dopamine and regulate its release. In the latter case, no-one understands the mechanisms involved, or how to control them.

With the help of mathematical models and microscopy method, scientists have unravelled the mechanisms behind synaptic dopamine release - and the factors that govern the probability of release.

"While there has been an enormous amount of effort put into the development of drugs for Parkinson's Disease, very little has been known about how the dopamine releasing drugs achieve their effects, other than the fact they attach to a receptor on a dopamine nerve cell, and then something happens," said researcher Bryce Vissel.

"We know that there's an intrinsic probability of the release of a neurotransmitter, but what's really interesting is that this release probability is regulated.

"A neuron can make it more likely or less likely that a neurotransmitter will be released, but it can't guarantee release. For example, it becomes more likely that a neurotransmitter will be released, but it can't guarantee release. Vissel added.

Vissel further said: "Our work involved developing sophisticated statistical analysis protocols and mathematical models of synapses, and it helps de-mystify the part of the process that takes place at the dopamine nerve cell synapse.

"We believe it will help us work out how drugs currently being used to treat Parkinson's Disease are regulating dopamine release. It will also open up new avenues for pharmaceutical development."

The study is published online in the Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)

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