As many as eight out of every 10 of those with Parkinson’s disease suffer from inexplicable pains that until now have been left untreated because they were thought to be an inevitable part of the progressive and eventually fatal neurological disease. Parkinson’s, a brain disorder that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, coordination and movement, usually develops after age 50 and is one of the most common nervous system disorders of the elderly.
But new research at the Rabin Medical Center- Beilinson Campus has found that genetic factors explain such Parkinson’s pain, and that the new understanding will make unique treatments possible. Eight genes known to be involved in pain were examined in 237 Parkinson’s patients, according to a research paper published recently in the European Journal of Pain, and the observed variations were connected to functions of cannabis-like substances (cannabinoids) in the brain.
Research project head Prof. Ruth Djaldetti, a senior physician in the neurology department and head of the movement disorders clinic, said that the results support the treatment of Parkinson’s patients with medical marijuana.
Djaldetti encourages more research into the use of cannabis for pain relief.
There are some 20,000 people with Parkinson’s in Israel, and about 50 percent to 80% of them suffer from this previously unexplained and untreated pain. Djaldetti expects that in the future, gene mapping will make it possible to suit personalized medication to these patients.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH