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Your Parkinson's News Update for the Week of 6.15.20

Monday June 15, 2020
Speech-Based Characterization of Dopamine
Replacement Therapy in People with Parkinson’s
Researchers brought the subtle progression of Parkinson's as well as transitions between meds into focus:
"Waiting too long between doses results in more prominent symptoms, loss of motor function, and greater risk of falling per step. Shortened pill cycles can lead to accelerated habituation and faster development of disabling dyskinesias."
The Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) is the gold standard for monitoring Parkinson’s progression but requires a neurologist to administer and therefore is not an ideal instrument to continuously evaluate short-term disease fluctuations.These researchers investigated the feasibility of using speech to detect changes in medication states, based on expectations of subtle changes in voice and content related to dopaminergic levels. 
Oleh Hornykiewicz, Who Discovered
Parkinson’s Treatment, Dies at 93
The New York Times
"Professor Hornykiewicz was among several scientists who were considered instrumental in first identifying a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine as a cause of Parkinson’s, and then in perfecting its treatment with L-dopa, an amino acid found in fava beans.
The Nobel laureate Dr. Arvid Carlsson and his colleagues had earlier shown that dopamine played a role in motor function. Drawing on that research, Professor Hornykiewicz and his assistant, Herbert Ehringer, discovered in 1960 that the brains of patients who had died of Parkinson’s had very low levels of dopamine.
He persuaded another one of his collaborators, the neurologist Walther Birkmayer, to inject Parkinson’s patients with L-dopa, the precursor of dopamine, which could cross the barrier between blood vessels and the brain and be converted into dopamine by enzymes in the body, thus replenishing those depleted levels. The treatment alleviated symptoms of the disease, and patients who had been bedridden started walking".
Disrupted Circadian Rhythms Linked
to Later Parkinson's Diagnoses
JAMA Neurology via Medical Xpress
According to study lead author Yue Leng, MD, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF, weakened or irregular circadian rhythms of rest and activity are common among older adults; these symptoms may also indicate Parkinson's.
"Parkinson's is a disease that probably takes decades to develop, and apart from changes in movement, earlier signs might be critical in understanding the disease and its mechanisms," Leng said. "This is the first large, long-term study to find that disrupted circadian rhythms might be linked to Parkinson's that emerges years later."