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In SGS 12 the students were organised into three groups based on therapies

  • drugs (L-Dopa etc)
  • surgery (ablation, implantation of stimulators)
  • novel therapies (stem-cells, gene therapy).

The groups are directed to a set of resources for each of the therapies. Each group has 30 minutes to present a review of the basic science underlying the action of their therapy.

  • The drug group will review the distribution of different neurotransmitters in the brain, and the mechanisms of neurotransmission in the CNS including synthesis and uptake of neurotransmitters: especially dopamine.
  • The surgery group will review the anatomy and functional connections of the basal ganglia and its role in initiating movement.
  • The novel therapy group will review causes of neurodegenerative disease.

After all the group presentations, students should nominate what therapy they would opt for in the event that they developed early onset Parkinson's disease, or their parents/grandparents developed Parkinson's disease.

  • Each group must then present current outcomes for patients on their therapy; side effects and how they are managed; prospects for future improvement.

Discussion points

  • To understand the drug therapies requires an understanding of neurotransmission in the basal ganglia, understanding the surgical therapies requires a understanding of basal ganglia circuits, and understanding the novel therapies requires understanding of the cell cycle and of the factors involved in cell development. Each group should first explain the basic science before proceeding with the detailed explanation of their therapy.