Medicine: Brain Defender

A new drug slows the progress of Parkinson's disease

Among the greatest terrors of old age is the fear of becoming physically crippled. About 600,000 Americans are afflicted with Parkinson's disease, which is marked by a progressive dying off of the brain cells that control voluntary movement. Victims suffer from the shakes, muscle stiffness and poor balance; eventually, many become totally disabled. Standard treatment for Parkinson's has relied on giving patients levodopa. But the drug, which supplies remaining brain cells with a vital chemical, simply tempers the disease's symptoms without affecting its progress. Even worse, the medication soon becomes ineffective. For that reason, doctors wait as long as possible after...

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