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Pandemic could provide insight into Parkinson's disease

Pandemic could provide insight into Parkinson's disease
22nd March 2011

The worldwide pandemic of encephalitis lethargica in the 1920s could hold clues to the nature of Parkinson's disease, a doctor in Australia believes.

News-Medical.net reports that Dr Paul Foley of Neuroscience Research Australia said that while the reasons for the pandemic are unclear, there is "strong evidence" that it was caused by a virus.

Encephalitis lethargica began with an acute phase, which made people appear to fall asleep, followed by a chronic phase many years later which caused Parkinson's-like symptoms.

"We can use this as a model to investigate the notion that there may be an infectious involvement in other brain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, and even Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis," Dr Foley told the news provider.

Recently, researchers in Ohio claimed gene therapy using glumatic acid decarboxylase, which helps to restore chemical balance in the brain, could be used to treat people with Parkinson's disease.

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