Spinal cord stimulator offers new hope against Parkinson's
A simple small electric stimulator of the spinal cord brings new hope to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, according to promising research carried out on mice in the United States.
This stimulator was attached to the top of the spine of mice and rats whose researchers had significantly reduced the body's dopamine content to replicate the biological characteristics of people with Parkinson's at different stages of this neurodegeneration. progressive incurable.
Dopamine is a small molecule that provides communication between neurons, nerve cells in the brain.
When the pacemaker was started, the dopamine-free animals whose movements were slow and stiff began to move quite normally.
This improvement was generally observed 3.35 seconds after the start of the stimulation.
"We observed almost immediately a dramatic change in the animals' ability to move when the device electrically stimulated their spinal cord," says Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a neurologist at the Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina. (Southeast), one of the authors of this study published in the journal Science dated March 20.
"In addition, this stimulator is simple to use and much less invasive than current approaches such as drugs or deep electrical stimulation of the brain," adds the researcher.
"Finally this stimulator could be used very widely with the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat Parkinson's," notes Dr. Nicolelis.
When the spinal cord stimulator was used on these rodents without drugs they were 26 times more active than other non-stimulated mice and rats.
Animals whose spinal cord was electrically stimulated also receiving two doses of the L-DOPA anti-Parkinsonian drug had movements comparable to five doses of this treatment in other animals without electrical stimulation.
L-DOPA, which increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, is one of the most commonly used drugs to reduce Parkinson's symptoms.
"This research addresses an important need because L-DOPA eventually loses its effects with the worsening of Parkinson's symptoms," says Romulo Fuentes of Duke University and the lead author of this study.
In addition, deep brain electrical stimulation only applies to a limited number of patients, says the researcher.
In a healthy person, neurons light up at different frequencies, reacting to information transmitted by the brain to initiate normal body movements, a process compromised in someone with Parkinson's.
"This stimulator of the spinal cord acts as an interface between the brain and the neural system to facilitate the transmission of nerve impulses", notes Per Petersson, one of the authors of the study.
"If we can show that this stimulator is safe and effective in primates and humans, almost all Parkinson's patients will soon be able to use it," says Dr. Nicolelis.
More than 50,000 Americans have Parkinson's and 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.