JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. -- A breakthrough in the fight against Parkinson's may be on the horizon.
Published in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Purdue University researchers say they have pinpointed how the compound acrolein promotes the development of Parkinson's disease in the brain. The researchers believe administering "anti-acrolein scavengers," like the drug Hydralazine, might be a new "strategy to alleviate tissue damage and motor deficits associated with [Parkinson's]."
Their work could be significant, as further research may revolutionize how the disease is treated, including better therapies, new drugs, and earlier diagnoses or preventative care.
ABC 33/40 spoke about researchers' new pre-clinical findings -- and the implications for new treatments -- with two people who suffer from the disease.
Whether he stands or sits, shaky hands and trembling feet have been Wayne Cook's way of life for the last ten years.
"[These are the] things that [I] used to take for granted," Cook laments as he tries to calm his trembling hand against his chest. "The fine motor skills are difficult."
Pointing to his brain, Cook explains how Parkinson's affects his speech. "You get something here and then you know what you want to say, but it just stops right here. It won't come out all the way."
Ken Cater has been suffering through an identical reality for the past 13 years. "You know it's tough. Right now I'm dealing with a progressive disease," says Cater.
But Cater's and Cook's progressing symptoms could possibly be alleviated through researchers' newest discovery. And that's exactly what they want to hear.
Cater says, "The Holy Grail that we are looking for right now is something that can slow or stop the progression of the disease."
Currently the research is limited to tests involving nonhuman animal models and cells. But when the day comes for human testing, Cook says he is more than willing to volunteer.
"I'm anxious for it to happen. If they have got a study, and they need volunteers, I raise my hand," says Cook.
Through research using the drug Hydralazine, scientists say they have already lessened and reversed effects of Parkinson's.
Since it's only pre-clinical research, Cater says he'll be eagerly awaiting new testing.
"I'm hopeful for a cure in the near future, if not at least better treatments," he says.
If you have questions about living with Parkinson's as a patient or caretaker, the Parkinson Association of Alabama may be able to help.