About Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder affecting more than 4 million individuals worldwide. Prevalence in industrialised countries is estimated to be 0.3% of the entire population, it increases with age, and is predicted to double to over 8.7 million by 2030.
Pathology results from the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Classical symptoms appear after the loss of 50-60% of this population, following an often lengthy prodromal period, and are characterised by resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity and gait disturbances. The presence of individual motor symptoms varies between patients and is often accompanied by a multitude of non-motor symptoms; including cognitive decline, depression, pain, sleep disorders, and autonomic and gastrointestinal dysfunction, which have a significant toll on quality of life.
Current PD medications treat symptoms by reducing dopamine turnover at the synapse, supplying the dopamine precursor L-dopa or bypassing the dopaminergic neurones with dopamine agonists. No available therapy is able to halt or slow dopaminergic neuronal degeneration and, as more neurons die, higher doses of these medications cause debilitating side effects and deliver diminished duration of action resulting in the wearing-off phenomenon.
There is now, more than ever, a need for novel therapeutics that can modulate Parkinson’s progression and provide patients with better, longer lasting quality of life.