Research Identifies Two Types of Parkinson’s Disease

October 9, 2020 13:42:17

For long, doctors and researchers have been baffled by the myriad of different symptoms that people with Parkinson’s disease exhibit. According to new research that has just been published in a neurological journal called Brain, it now turns out that Parkinson’s is not just a single disease. Rather, the condition has two variants which should be managed differently.

This eye-opening research was done by a team from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University in Denmark. Professor Per Borghammer and Jacob Horsager, M.D. are the researchers behind this work.

The team used advanced brain scanning techniques (PET and fMRI) to establish that Parkinson’s can originate from two different parts of the body, and that explains why the symptoms manifesting in sufferers differ.

Their research revealed that some cases of Parkinson’s start within the intestines and then spread to the other organs of the body, such as the brain. This variant was named the body-first type of Parkinson’s since the neural degeneration starts in the intestines before spreading to the neurons in the brain.

The second variant of Parkinson’s that the researchers found is the brain-first variant. The scans showed that this variant is harder to detect because no symptoms are evident until extensive damage has occurred to the neurons in the brain and the condition has spread to the rest of the body. It is therefore harder to slow down the progression of this brain-first disease.

Previous research had indicated that patients with Parkinson’s had gut microorganisms (microbiota) that differed from that of other people. However, it wasn’t clear why this difference existed. The research done by Prof. Per Borghammer and his colleague was designed to get answers explaining this difference in gut microbiota.

Their research was designed as a longitudinal study. This means that the researchers will call back their study subjects after three years have elapsed, and later at the six-year mark in order to run all the tests and scans which were done during the initial stages of the study. This study design is meant to collect comprehensive information about Parkinson’s disease (or diseases).

The research and its findings offers hope to the millions of people suffering from Parkinson’s that interventions could in future be more targeted so that the people suffering from either brain-first or body-first variants of the disease get appropriate treatment.

For example, the scientific community could look into fecal transplantation in order to slow down or even reverse body-first Parkinson’s in its initial stages when altering the intestinal microbiota can be beneficial. There is no doubt that entities like CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) will immediately appreciate the utility of the findings of this Danish pair of researchers.

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