To date, only a few people have been cured of the motor disorders caused by Parkinson's disease (see, for example, here
So, currently there is no broad-based, effective cure for Parkinson's disease.
Thanks to a number of ongoing research projects, however, there is reason to hope that this will change in the foreseeable future.
A very promising area of research is cell replacement therapies. They aim to remedy the deficiency of the messenger dopamine in the brain of Parkinson's patients using newly cultured cells. If this is successful, the recipients of these replacement cells can again produce enough dopamine in their brains, thus alleviating or even remedying the severe symptoms of dopamine deficiency. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, serious motor disorders (including tremors, dysmotility, stiffness) as well as other physical and mental disorders. A second positive effect of cell replacement therapies is presumably that the Parkinson's drugs can be reduced or even completely discontinued. This would also mitigate their sometimes serious side effects.
The extent to which the cell replacement therapies currently being investigated are effective will only be known after the research projects have entered the clinical phase (i.e., are being tested on humans). However, based on the results already available, it is likely that they will have beneficial effects:
- the transplantation of foetal cells into the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, as well
- animal experiments transplanting newly grown human dopamine cells.
In particular, for Parkinson's patients who are otherwise physically still healthy, cell replacement therapies could mean the return to a largely normal life.
It has to be noted, however, that the cause(s) for dopamine cell death in the brain, which led to the onset of Parkinson's disease, are different for each individual affected.
Therefore, it is likely that these original causes are not cured by cell replacement therapies. Thus, cell replacement therapies, when used alone, have only a limited duration of action since the transplanted cells can also slowly die off after a certain time. However, according to current knowledge the duration of the activity can be very long (many years up to several decades).
Thus, cell replacement therapy is "only" one of several pillars in the cure of Parkinson's disease. For those affected, however, it is very important, because this therapy can significantly improve the quality of life.
Other pillars include:
- identification and removal of the initial pathogenic factors;
- dispersal of the already formed alpha-synuclein deposits and the prevention of new formations.