American scientists have stumbled on a technique to restore the motor skills of Parkinson's sufferers by lighting genetically created pathways in the brain that control body movement.
The researchers from the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and Stanford University have successfully tested the technique in model mice that lacked dopamine, a symptom of the degenerative disease.
Using genetic manipulation, brain pathways responsive to light were created in the mice so that stop and go cells within can be turned on and off with laser shined through a hair-thin fibre optic cable inserted into the rodents.
When the stop cells in the pathways were turned on by light, the scientists mimicked the effects of Parkinson's on the model mice. When the go cells were lighted and turned on, the same mice's movement became normal.
We restored all of their motor deficits with this treatment, even though the mice still lacked dopamine, said Dr. Anatol Kreitzer of the GIND quoted by the Telegraph.
Aside from deriving drugs that can treat Parkinson's, the technique developed by the GIND scientists may also lead to the development of drugs or therapies for Huntington's disease and Tourette's syndrome.
The findings of Kreitzer's team are published in this week's edition of the scientific journal Nature.