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DaTscan for Parkinson's: What Does it Mean?

- Jan 20 2011 Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of ioflupane iodine-123 injection or DaTscan, a contrast agent to be used with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) for detecting dopamine transporters (DaT) in suspected parkinsonian syndromes. What is DaT scan and what does it mean for you? PDF posed your recent questions to our Director of Research Programs, James Beck, Ph.D. Q: What is DaTscan? Dr. Beck: DaTscan is an imaging technology that uses small amounts of a radioactive drug to help determine how much dopamine is available in a person's brain. A machine similar to but smaller than an MRI machine, called a single photon emission computed tomography or SPECT scanner, measures the amount and location of the drug in the brain. Q: Can DaTscan diagnose Parkinson's? Dr. Beck: DaTscans cannot diagnose Parkinson's disease. These scans are used to help a doctor confirm a diagnosis. DaTscan has been used in Europe for over 10 years, where more than 300,000 have undergone the procedure. The results of a DaTscan can be used to help rule out other diseases that may have similar symptoms, like essential tremor, especially for individuals early in the course of their disease. However, there are several other diseases, multiple system atrophy (MSA) or progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which can also produce a loss of dopamine in the brain. A DaTscan cannot differentiate between those diseases and Parkinson's. Q: What is the role of the DaTscan for people living with Parkinsons? Dr. Beck: Currently, there is no objective test for Parkinson's disease. While the specificity and sensitivity of DaTscans are not 100 percent, the test can help doctors to confirm or refute their suspected diagnosis. DaTscans will therefore be helpful in people whose symptoms present an inconclusive or confusing diagnosis. Q: Are there risks associated with DaTscan? Dr. Beck: Possible adverse reactions such as headache, nausea, vertigo, dry mouth, and mild to moderate dizziness were reported, hypersensitivity

reaction and injection site pain have been reported. Among the individuals who have undergone the DaTscan in Europe, no significant side-effects have been reported. Q: I have Parkinson's / I am experiencing symptoms of Parkinson's. Should I get a DaTscan? Dr. Beck: Likely no. Individuals who respond well to Parkinson's medication therapy and who have been diagnosed for many years will likely have an accurate diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. A DaTscan may be useful for those whose diagnosis is clinically uncertain or who have failed to respond well to common Parkinson's medication therapy. Every case of Parkinson's disease is different, so it is important to discuss it with your doctor. Q: How can I get a DaTscan? Dr. Beck: PDF recommends speaking with your doctor to see if a DaTscan is right for you. Those interested in learning more can visit http://us.datscan.com/. Q:Is the DaTscan test covered by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid? Dr. Beck: DaTscan will be covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Insurers are likely to cover Datscan but insurers vary, so please contact your insurer for more information. Learn More: How is Parkinsons diagnosed? Check out our Diagnosis page to find out.

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Turmeric treatment for Parkinson's


Monday, Mar 22, 2010, 8:26 IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA Bhargavi Kerur Curcumin, which gives the herb its yellow colour, can fight the disorder of the nervous system. Turmeric, that quintessential ingredient in many an Indian food item, now has one more medicinal property to its name. A collaborative research study, which involved scientists from the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans) also, has found that the spices anti-oxidant property could be effective in treating Parkinsons disease. Turmeric gets the anti-oxidant property from curcumin, which gives the spice its yellow colour. Curcumin improves the bodys immunity against various diseases. Curcumin is recognised worldwide for its medicinal property, said MM Srinivas Bharath, the co-author of the study and a faculty member at the department of neurochemistry, Nimhans. It can be used as a drug for any kind of disease as it is an anti-oxidant that provides immunity to the body.

But it cannot be absorbed by the human body cells since it is insoluble in water. Scientists from Nimhans, along with researchers from Indo-Russian Centre for Biotechnology in Allahabad, and Cellworks Group Inc in Bangalore, improvised curcumin to get round its non-bio availability (low absorption rate in the body). During the experiment, we found positive results for treating Parkinsons disease, Bharath said. The disease is caused by the loss of neurons in the mid-brain that produce the chemical, dopamine, which controls body movements. Oxidative stress (the presence of free radicals in the body that react with cell molecules and damage the cells) caused by the depletion of the cellular antioxidant, glutathione (GSH), is said to be responsible for the neurodegeneration. This then manifests as tremors in limbs and uncontrolled body movements, the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Curcumin can prevent the degeneration or the death of the cells, Bharath said. Besides antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, curcumin also had therapeutic potential for neurological disorders, he said. It also had the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, he said. The research team G Harish, Rajeswara Babu Mythri, C Venkateshappa, Shiv Kumar Dubey, Krishna Mishra, Neetu Singh, Shireen Vali and MM Srinivas Bharath embarked on the study to increase the solubility of curcumin in the body using bio-conjugates in 2007.

The scientists attached amino acids, which are easily absorbed by the body, to curcumin and injected it into cultured cells. The amino acids easily entered the cells along with curcumin. Once curcumin enters the cell, it is de-tagged from the amino acids and carries on its function of preventing the degeneration or death of the cells, the co-author explained. The improvised curcumin can act as a supplementary medicine for treating Parkinsons disease. The drug available now generates dopamine to control the movement of the body, but it is not able to stop the cells from dying. Hence, it fails to attack the cause, Bharath said. When used with curcumin, which prevents degeneration of the neuron cells, it can delay the disease. Curcumin could also increase the anti-oxidant load responsible for immunity in the body, he said. The studies, however, were only at experimental stages and yet to go for human trials, Bharath said. Once it goes through human trials it will become the drug to fight any disease, he said. The researchers have successfully tested the efficacy of curcumin in its purified form in mice. We are planning to test the improvised one soon, he said. Now, there is promise of a molecule that can fight the disease.

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