Scientists find new technique for observing Parkinson’s brain cells

Lisa Wurth

January 31, 2012

Scientists find new technique for observing Parkinson's brain cellsParkinson's disease is a condition that results in the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, causing people to tremor in their hands, arms, legs or face. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that the disease can also cause impaired balance and loss of coordination. There is currently no cure for the illness, which effects more than 500,000 Americans, though new technology created by scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany has found a different way to look at how the disease affects the brain.

The new technology will allow researchers, for the first time ever, to observe the development of the brain cells responsible for Parkinson's disease. Until this breakthrough, researchers studying the disease could only look at the function and degeneration of the neurons in the aging brain. The new "tissue slicing" method allows scientists to actually watch the development of the brain cells, which may shed new light on how or why the cells malfunction.

"Being able to visualize cell development in this area of the brain is exciting," said Dr. Claire Standen, lead author. "The availability of this technique could help scientists understand diseases of the dopaminergic system- such as Parkinson's."

People suffering with Parkinson's who live alone might benefit from installing a medical alert system in their homes. This way they have access to help should they fall while suffering a tremor or another problem related to the disease.