All posts by Dr. Steve

Dr. Steve is a biochemist, specializing in medical bioinformatics and nutrition. Dr. Steve directs a biomedical consulting laboratory, focusing primarily on biomedical investing and health policy.
virus_bbb

Can Parkinson’s be treated using engineered viruses?

Gene delivery across the blood brain barrier with viruses could revolutionize neuro-medicine, scientists believe.

The brain presents a unique challenge for medical treatment: it is locked away behind an impenetrable layer of tightly packed cells. Although the blood-brain barrier prevents harmful chemicals and bacteria from reaching our control center, it also blocks roughly 95 percent of medicine delivered orally or intravenously. As a result, doctors who treat patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, often have to inject drugs directly into the brain, an invasive approach that requires drilling into the skull.

Some scientists have had minor successes getting intravenous drugs past the barrier with the help of ultrasound or in the form of nanoparticles, but those methods can target only small areas. Now neuroscientist Viviana Gradinaru and her colleagues at the California Institute of Technology show that a harmless virus can pass through the barricade and deliver treatment throughout the brain.

Gradinaru’s team turned to viruses because the infective agents are small and adept at entering cells and hijacking the DNA within. They also have protein shells that can hold beneficial deliveries, such as drugs or genetic therapies. To find a suitable virus to enter the brain, the researchers engineered a strain of an adeno-associated virus into millions of variants with slightly different shell structures. They then injected these variants into a mouse and, after a week, recovered the strains that made it into the brain. A virus named AAV-PHP.B most reliably crossed the barrier.

  • Description: “The harmless virus could deliver medicine throughout the brain
  • Source Link: http://ift.tt/27y2VCE

posted on our Facebook fan page: Stop Parkinson’s Disease

The Parkinson's Fighting Machine

The Parkinson’s Fighting Machine

In this post, you’ll read what we’ve been up to for the last year or so. You’ll learn what we’ve created and how it might benefit you and the Parkinson’s community. We’ll talk about what people with Parkinson’s really want, and why doctors, drug companies and much of scientific research have been failing them. We’ve been thinking outside the box, and we think you’ll like it. This is not a scientific article, it is written so that non-scientists can understand it and get a sense of our progress.

…read more

Can Parkinson's Patients Give Blood?

Can Parkinson’s Patients Give Blood?

This post is part II of a two part series on the question of Parkinson’s disease (PD) transmission. Specifically, we will review the issue of blood donation from PD patients. We will present the evidence, sample the prevailing attitudes and policies, and then make our recommendations.
Part I of this series discussed the similarities between the possible cell to cell progression of Parkinson’s pathogenesis and contagious proteinaceous pathogens called prions. Despite these similarities, there is no evidence of person to person transmission of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is not contagious.

However, the next form of transmission we need to consider is transmission through blood and tissue. …read more

Is Parkinson's Disease Contagious?

Is Parkinson’s Disease Contagious?

This post is part I of a two part series on the question of PD transmission.
OK now don’t panic! The purpose of this post is not to scare anyone. Parkinson’s is not a virus that spreads from person to person. At least we haven’t observed anything like that in the hundreds of years that medicine has known about the disease. That said, with a 20 plus year incubation period it’s possible that some low level of transmission could be missed. But it is very unlikely.
So why the question? Why ask if Parkinson’s is contagious?

…read more

Sense of smell in Parkinson's disease

Top 5 Odors Parkies Can’t Smell

Here’s the list, but read on for the rest of the story.
  1. banana
  2. licorice
  3. pizza
  4. pineapple
  5. turpentine
Runners up are: dill pickle, wintergreen, mint, gasoline, smoke, cinnamon, aniseed, apple, lemon, and rose.
Current therapies for Parkinson’s disease treat only some of the symptoms of the disease. They do not treat the disease itself, and there is currently no convincing evidence that early detection and early treatment changes the disease progression. However, early detection has a few existing and future benefits:
  • Early detection may help researchers understand more about how the disease progresses, where it starts and how it spreads.
  • It would allow patients to identify their premotor symptoms for what they are, and seek quicker relief of those symptoms.
  • If detected early enough, neuroprotective strategies (some already known to researchers) may be able to halt progression before the onset of “overt PD”.
  • Early detection will be important for future therapies that stop or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease; these are the so-called “disease modifying” therapies. The earlier the detection, the more neurons could be saved.

These last two benefits are where …read more

fool

Treating Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms is Lucrative

According to investors, the most promising drugs in the pipeline for treating Parkinson’s disease DON’T actually treat the disease. The drugs merely reduce some of the symptoms of this degenerative disease. The sole purpose of one of the drugs is to reduce the side effects of another drug that itself only helps symptoms!

As the numbers of sufferers continues to increase, treatment of symptoms is certainly lucrative. But this report should remind us of the desperate need for treatments that slow, stop, or reverse the disease itself. Parkinson’s is progressive and more and more Continue reading

genetic or environmental?

Is Parkinson’s disease genetic or environmental?

Since I’ve started working on this project, many people have asked me if Parkinson’s disease is “genetic or environmental”. One of the most frequently cited studies on this question looked at twin brothers: identical twins versus fraternal twins. If one twin got Parkinson’s, would the other twin get it as well?

If Parkinson’s was genetic, we would expect both identical twin brothers to get Parkinson’s more often than both fraternal twin brothers. Why is this? Because identical twins share much more genetic information than fraternal twins, who share as much genetic information as regular brothers. More genetic information means more likelihood that both identical twins will share traits, including disease risk, that are caused or influenced by heritable factors.

So what did the study find? …read more

CoQ10 Powder

Should I take CoQ10 for my Parkinson’s?

Since I’ve started working on this project to slow Parkinson’s, quite a number of people have asked me about a dietary supplement called Coenzyme Q10, commonly abbreviated CoQ10. It is a natural substance in your body that is critical to mitochondria, the power generators in your cells.

CoQ10 has gained interest from the alternative health community because it also functions as a potent antioxidant for both lipids and proteins, and can also regenerate other antioxidants. Also, oral supplementation of CoQ10 is effective at replenishing the body’s concentrations of CoQ10. And since many disease conditions deplete CoQ10, an obvious way to help fight those diseases is to supplement with CoQ10.

Indeed, many studies have generated evidence suggesting that CoQ10 is beneficial for a number of conditions. It also may correct a potentially dangerous side effect of statin use, which reduces serum levels of CoQ10 dramatically. The desire for supplementation has increased steadily over the past 10 years, and prices have dropped.

Regarding Parkinson’s disease, there was the feeling that CoQ10 could be helpful because oxidative stress is involved in Parkinson’s disease, either as a cause or an effect, depending on the Parkinson’s subtype. Parkinson’s also involves the inability to properly dispose of old or damaged mitochondria (mitophagy), so the desire to keep mitochondria healthy was reasonable.

Like other diseases, patients with Parkinson’s disease are also deficient in CoQ10. Additionally, CoQ10 appears to be effective at protecting dopaminergic neurons and other brain tissue from certain toxins and other insults (neuroprotection). I suspect that CoQ10 supplementation may be useful as part of a prevention strategy for those who are at greater risk of developing Parkinson’s. Supplementation also appears to be useful for certain patients that experience headaches and migraines.

However, increasing mitochondrial longevity through CoQ10 supplementation might have value for only certain subtypes of Parkinson’s patients . For those patients, one would at least want to pair CoQ10 with a mitophagy inducer. Our algorithms are busy examining the data, looking for existing supplements and compounds that should be effective as mitophagy inducers.

Indeed, a large clinical trial of CoQ10 in Parkinson’s patients was stopped in 2011 because it failed to show any particular benefit. This was disappointing because a number of animal models showed significant benefit of CoQ10. It is important to note that these were general Parkinson’s patients, not segmented based on subtype. I would be curious if certain subtypes would see more benefit, but I’m skeptical that CoQ10 supplementation alone would slow Parkinson’s neurodegeneration significantly.

The experiment on humans was certainly worth doing, however Parkinson’s is not a single issue that can be slowed with a single supplement. By the time somebody is diagnosed, there is an avalanche of multiple issues, caused by problems in multiple pathways, requiring multiple directions of attack. Multiple supplements are required to attack Parkinson’s from these directions. Adding to this complexity is that Parkinson’s is made up of multiple subtypes, each with a different origin. The mission of this project is to determine exactly what combination of supplements, and in what quantities, would benefit the most patients.

Normal Brain

New drug discovery technique using skin cells reveals promising new drugs

Skin cells with a genetic defect found in a small number of Parkinson’s cases, specifically autosomal recessive juvenile Parkinson’s disease. Essentially, the mutation makes mitochondria, the cell’s energy factories, sick. Out of 2,000 compounds, the screen found a family of new drugs, including an existing drug called UDCA, that allowed the mitochondria to work again. Very nicely done!

posted on our Facebook fan page: Stop Parkinson’s Disease

Filter and Fan

Progress on The Machine: added mesh filtration and exhaust fan.

We’ve made some progress in the construction and testing of the machine. Concerns about heat and dust infiltration were solved (we hope) by inserting high open area, low open size woven mesh sheeting over the top and side grills. This will act as a filter that can be cleaned using compressed air. Also, we placed an exhaust fan over the hottest spot on the grill in order to keep interior temperatures reasonable.
uploaded on our Facebook fan page: Stop Parkinson’s Disease