Targeting these circuits could offer a new way to reverse motor dysfunction and depression in Parkinson’s patients.
Parkinson’s disease is best-known as a disorder of movement. Patients often experience tremors, loss of balance, difficulty initiating movement. The disease also has lesser-known symptoms that are non-motor, including depression.
In a study of a small region of the thalamus, scientists at the McGoverm Institute at MIT.). identified three distinct circuits that influence the development of both motor and nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Furthermore, they found that by manipulating these circuits, they could reverse Parkinson’s symptoms in mice.
The findings suggest that those circuits could be good targets for new drugs that could help combat many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers say.
“We know that the thalamus is important in Parkinson’s disease, but a key question is how can you put together a circuit that that can explain many different things happening in Parkinson’s disease. Understanding different symptoms at a circuit level can help guide us in the development of better therapeutics,” says Guoping Feng, the James W. and Patricia T. Poitras Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and the associate director of the McGovern Institute.
The Institute was founded by Pat McGovern, Chairman of International Data Corporation (IDG) for whom I worked for nearly 20 years, Pat was a socially reponsible high tech entrepreneur. He built a world-wide high tech publishing company (100 magazines in 70 countries). But IDG is probably best known for the highly successful "For Dummies": books. . Instead of going public, Pat started an employee ownership plan.