• Question: What is parkinsons disorder and is parkinsons disorder genetic?

    Asked by mini3dimensions to Adam, Amylou, Mark L, Samantha on 13 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: Amy Evans

      Amy Evans answered on 13 Jun 2012:

      Parkinson’s is a condition that affects the nervous system. It gets gradually worse over time. One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s so it affects about 127,000 people in the UK. Most people who get Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too.

      People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear. People can have a tremor, get stiff muscles and become slow in their movements.

      There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s and we don’t yet know why people get the condition. Scientists are doing research to find out what causes Parkinson’s disease. There may be genetic links as Parkinson’s disease can run in families. This might happen when genes change or ‘mutate’ and become abnormal. So far at least nine different genetic mutations have been found to increasing a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

      Other scientists think that in most cases genetics is not solely responsible for Parkinson’s disease and there needs to be an environmental factor to trigger it in genetically susceptible people. Environmental factors include exposure to harmful chemicals like those put on farm crops or those released into the air from factories and traffic.

      There is a lot of research being done by scientists to find out what causes Parkinson’s disease, so that we can find the best ways to prevent and treat it.