Parkinson’s disease (PD) was first identified by James Parkinson in 1817. A chronic disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), it affects the basal ganglia and motor systems of the brain. It is characterised by the loss of A9 dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) area of the midbrain. Loss of these neurons leads to a decrease in the dopamine supply to their projection zones.
The underlying process for the observed cell death in this area is not yet known. It has, however, been shown that a build-up of Lewy Bodies could be, in part, responsible. Lewy Bodies are an aggregation of proteins that cause the normal cellular functions to be impaired or even stop completely. Symptoms of PD appear slowly over time, with the first symptom usually being a gait disturbance or a difficulty in writing.