Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system (CNS). It is one of the most serious neurological diseases, with more patients than multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and myasthenia gravis combined. The disease is named after the English doctor James Parkinson, who published the first detailed description in An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. The most obvious symptoms are movement related and include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of PD patients, may begin to interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.
The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain. The cause of this cell death is unknown.
Until now, there has been no drug or treatment on the market that cures or slows down the development of Parkinson’s disease. It is unlikely that such a cure will be available on the market for the next two to three decades. Nor do the present drugs for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease offer effective relief over the course of the disease.