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Parkinson Disease


Overview :

Usually beginning in a person's late fifties or early sixties, Parkinson disease causes a progressive decline in movement control, affecting the ability to control initiation, speed, and smoothness of motion. Symptoms of PD are seen in up to 15% of those ages 65-74, and almost 30% of those ages 75-84.

Most cases of PD are sporadic. This means that there is a spontaneous and permanent change in nucleotide sequences (the building blocks of genes). Sporadic mutations also involve unknown environmental factors in combination with genetic defects. The abnormal gene (mutated gene) will form an altered end-product or protein. This will cause abnormalities in specific areas in the body where the protein is used. Some evidence suggests that the disease is transmitted by autosomal dominant inheritance. This implies that an affected parent has a 50% chance of transmitting the disease to any child. This type of inheritance is not commonly observed. The most recent evidence is linking PD with a gene that codes for a protein called alpha-synuclein. Further research is attempting to fully understand the relationship with this protein and nerve cell degeneration.

PD affects approximately 500,000 people in the United States, both men and women, with as many as 50,000 new cases each year.




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