Friday, March 28, 2008

Its the Little things.

Its the little things that nobody ever thinks about. This morning I had coffee out with a woman who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about 5 years. Apart from that, she's absolutely fine. We were meeting to set up a photograph of myself (President of the Montgomeryshire branch) and her daughter (who had won a competition prize). The photograph is for the next local Parkinson's Disease Newsletter. Anyway, I arranged the set and handed over my camera. And then I realised that operating a camera is not an easy thing for for her to do, and the owner of the cafe took the photograph. I know its not much, but its something relatively small that bring things home. To begin with I was cross with myself for being so insensitive. But on reflection, I think that's probably the best approach - treating people who are suffering from an illness as if they're not.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

My PhD was devoted to modeling the dopamine family of receptors; it is lack of the natural agonist ligand dopamine that is the physical basis of Parkinson’s disease. While under stimulation leads to conditions like Parkinson's too much leads to paranoia, schizophrenia, hearing voices, etc.

A pharmaceutical company paid for much of the research and I presented a talk to their chief R&D scientists working on new drugs to treat brain diseases linked to compromised dopamine receptors. The idea (at least at my end) being a more rational drug design approach, where the medicinal chemists come up with a new set of agonists, partial agonists and antagonist molecules based on a 3D model of the binding site inside the dopamine receptor (which was my project).

For a while I was probably a world expert on the putative structure of the dopamine binding site and the physical characteristics necessary in the design of molecules to achieve agonist, partial agonist and antagonist binding. The big problem of course was the blood-brain barrier, the new drugs also had to cross this barrier (but my project didn’t cover that issue).

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

... which incidentally is why it is not a good idea to alter one's brain chemistry through over-stimulating the dopamine receptors. Too much over-stimulation of the dopamine receptors induces paranoia, hallucinations, seeing snakes etc., hearing voices. "Dirty" stimulation causes side-effects. The drug treatments for Parkinson's can cause side-effects when the drug molecule (an artificial agonist ligand) lacks specificity and binds to other integral membrane proteins in the human brain leading to such side effects as nausea, and even heart issues.