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New 'brainstem circuitry' may aid Parkinson's treatment development

New 'brainstem circuitry' may aid Parkinson's treatment development
20th May 2010

Researchers are confident that a new brainstem circuit discovery could help with the treatment of Parkinson's disease in the future.

An overlooked nervous system pathway running parallel to the known brainstem has been discovered in mammals that may offer a new means of treating the condition, according to researchers from the universities of Pittsburgh, Illinois at Chicago, Montreal and Quebec.

The results, which are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, show how a neurotransmitter associated with this alternative pathway modifies sensory information that is delivered to the brain.

Commenting on the findings, lead author Simon Alford suggested that the research opens up new avenues for general insights into animal and human locomotion.

He explained: "It's a system for turning on your locomotor system and making you walk or run in a very coordinated, straight-line fashion.

"This may be a backdoor finding into a secondary effect of Parkinson's disease that's not well studied because most research emphasis has been on dopamine and the basal ganglia, a different neurotransmitter and region of the brain."

Meanwhile, research published by scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in September suggested that high doses of over the counter vitamin supplements may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

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