Are we closer to a cure for Parkinson's?
New research has found that some of our brain cells are "bilingual." Find out what this could mean for Parkinson's disease and the search for a cure
The medical community has long known that neurons in our brains communicate using chemicals called neurotransmitters. It was thought that each neuron could send only a single type of neurotransmitter—or “speak” one language. Now, new research reveals that some of our brain cells are “bilingual.”
“They are capable of communicating using more than one type of neurotransmitter,” says Louis-Eric Trudeau of the University of Montreal’s pharmacology department. He made the discovery as part of a team of scientists from McGill University and other international research centres.
Dubbed “co-transmission,” this finding opens up more options for discovering a cure for Parkinson’s disease. The condition is caused in part by the malfunction of neurons previously believed to transmit only dopamine. But Trudeau has shown these neurons also secrete glutamate, which is involved in cognition, memory and learning. Understanding the behaviour of this second neurotransmitter in Parkinson’s sufferers could lead to better-targeted medications.