• Question: what is parkinsons

    Asked by rafaela1 to Rachel, Patrick, Anabel on 11 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rachel Hardy

      Rachel Hardy answered on 11 Jun 2019: last edited 11 Jun 2019 4:54 pm

      Hey! Parkinson’s disease is a severe disease that affects movement and coordination. Common symptoms of this disease are a tremor, and difficulty walking/moving. Parkinson’s disease develops when the brain cells that allow us to move gradually die. The particular brain cells that are damaged in Parkinson’s disease make a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is passed between brain cells, and allows them to communicate with each other. This process in the brain allows us to move. When these dopamine brain cells are damaged or die, movement is severely affected. Scientists are currently trying to figure out what causes Parkinson’s disease (e.g. what causes dopamine brain cells to die in certain people). Some popular theories include damage to mitochondria in brain cells . These structures are essential for producing most of the energy a cell needs to survive. Damage to mitochondria can reduce the amount of energy a cell makes. This is particularly dangerous for cells that need a lot of energy to work properly and survive – such as the dopamine brain cells that control movement. Scientists have also shown that clumps of protein tend to build up around dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson’s disease. These are known as ‘lewy bodies’, and are made up of an important protein called alpha synuclein. A lot of research is currently trying to figure out what causes these protein clumps to build up in Parkinson’s disease, and the exact effect these have on dopamine brain cells. You can read a general overview of the disease here too if you are interested 🙂 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Parkinsons-disease/