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Books by Lee Tang
3. The Case of the Frozen Addicts
4. Mind Over Matter
5. Patient Power
6. Surgical Serendipity
7. The Exercise Rx
8. New Neurons for Old
10. Rebranding Parkinson's Disease
11. The Descendants
12. When Good Proteins Go Bad
13. Damage Assessment
14. Learning From Alzheimer’s
15. Medicine Gold
16. Brain Storms
About the Author
Summary &Study Guide
The Race to Unlock the Secrets ofParkinson’s Disease
Title: Summary & Study Guide - Brain Storms
Subtitle: The Race to Unlock the Secrets of Parkinson's Disease
Author: Lee Tang
Publisher: LMT Press (lmtpress.wordpress.com)
Copyright © 2017 by Lee Tang
All rights reserved. Aside from brief quotations for media coverage and reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form without the author’s permission. Thank you for supporting authors and a diverse, creative culture by purchasing this book and complying with copyright laws.
First Edition: March 2017
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 9780994764089 (ebook)
ISBN-13: 9781544651262 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 1544651260 (paperback)
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and author make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of these contents and disclaim all warranties such as warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. The website addresses in the book were correct at the time going to print. However, the publisher and author are not responsible for the content of third-party websites, which are subject to change.
To my wife, Lillian, who is the source of energy and love for everything I do, and to Andrew and Amanda: watching you grow up has been a privilege.
For a complete list of books by Lee Tang and information about the author, visit https://lmtpress.wordpress.com.
"Brain Storms: My Fight Against Parkinson's and the Race to Unlock the Secrets of One of the Brain's Most Mysterious Diseases" by Jon Palfreman
When award-winning science journalist Jon Palfreman investigated a group of drug addicts who mysteriously ended up with Parkinson's-like symptoms, he never imagined that 25 years later he would contract the disease himself. Parkinson's is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. About seven million people globally, and one million Americans have Parkinson's, with 60,000 new U.S. cases each year.
Parkinson's is a disease that has entranced doctors and scientists for two centuries since the British physician James Parkinson described its symptoms in 1817. In Brain Storms, Palfreman chronicles the scientific history of the race to unlock the secrets of the disease. It is a story of many twists and turns. But the classic motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease—tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement, and postural imbalance—are just the tips of a clinical iceberg. This means that besides the movement problems, people with Parkinson's disease must cope with a wide range of adverse symptoms from constipation to dementia. The disease can be caused by environmental toxins. And some forms of the disease can be passed to future generations. Out goes the old dopamine-centered theory of the disease, which was introduced in the late 1960s. And in comes a new theory of the disease that may offer the possibility of a disease-modifying therapy.
Jon Palfreman is the KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Oregon. He is an Emmy, Dupont, and Peabody Award-winning journalist, and the recipient of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. He is a three-time winner of an AAAS Science Journalism Award and a three-time winner of the NASW Science in Society Journalism Award. Palfreman is the author of The Case of the Frozen Addicts and The Dream Machine.
Important Note About This Study Guide
This guide is a summary and not a critique or a review of the book. It does not offer judgment or opinion on the content of the book. This summary may not be organized chapter-wise but is an overview of the main ideas, viewpoints and arguments from the book. It is NOT meant to be read as a replacement of the book which it summarizes but, instead, a supplement for review of the book's main premises and to provide commentary and additional resources.
In June 2012, Jon Palfreman, journalist and author of the book "Brain Storms," visited the neuroscientist Bill Langston at his home in Los Altos Hills, California. They had met in July 1985 when Palfreman produced a documentary for the PBS titled "The Case of the Frozen Addict." The film told the story of a group of young drug addicts who mysteriously ended up with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Langston and his colleagues cracked the mystery, and he became a renowned neuroscientist, founding his own research institute in Sunnyvale, California.
Palfreman had contracted Parkinson's in 2011 when he was 60. He took a year to process the information, and now he has accepted his fate and embraced it. He read everything he could about the disease and spoke to clinicians and neuroscientists so he could understand his predicament. That's what had brought him to Los Altos Hills. He wanted to pick Bill Langston's brain to figure out the state of Parkinson's research and find out what the future holds.
Parkinson's is a disease that has entranced doctors and scientists for two centuries since the British physician James Parkinson described its symptoms in 1817. Two hundred years after his paper, people still live and die with this disease. But today, success seems possible. The chapters to follow would chronicle the scientific history of the race to unlock the secrets of the disease, a story with many twists and turns.
James Parkinson (1755-1824) was the first person to describe the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). In his 1817 monograph "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy," Parkinson called the new disease shaking palsy and described its four common symptoms as tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, and postural imbalance.
But few physicians noticed Parkinson's essay. For the next five decades, physicians were left to figure out the disease on their own.
In the 1860s, a French physician named Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-93) got a copy of his essay and realized its importance. Charcot was a famous neurologist at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. At the Salpêtrière, Charcot analyzed hundreds of patients with a wide range of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Charcot-Marc-Tooth disease, and the shaking palsy. By observing his own patients, Charcot codified Parkinson's four common symptoms and added two more, which Parkinson had missed—micrographia (small handwriting), and facial masking. Charcot also noticed that not all patients had tremors, so he argued that calling the condition the shaking palsy was misleading. He proposed to call it "Parkinson's disease."
By the 1880s, Charcot had completed the clinical picture of PD, and treated its symptoms. He observed that the symptoms of PD patients appeared to improve after long rides on horseback, in carriages, or in trains. So he developed an electric-powered "shaking chair." His therapeutic vibration concept was recently tested in a controlled trial using massage chairs. The results showed that the therapy has been just a placebo effect with no benefits to the patients.
In Charcot's time, PD was not yet a disease, it was merely a "syndrome"—a cluster of symptoms. Before a syndrome can be classified as a disease, physicians must know at least one of two pieces of information: how the malady started, or how it ends.
In the 1880s, scientists and pathologists knew little about what caused PD, but they routinely dissected the brains of patients to identify the difference between the brains of healthy and sick individuals. In 1893, two of Charcot's students, Paul Blocq and Georges Marinesco, performed an autopsy on a patient with a parkinsonian tremor and rigidity on the left side of his body. They discovered a hazelnut-sized lump on the right side of his midbrain, close to the substantia nigra where the black stuff was located. They hypothesized that the substantia nigra was associated with PD.
Then, in 1919, a Russian graduate student working in Paris named Constantin Tretiakoff discovered that parkinsonian brains had lost most of their black stuff from the substantia nigra. He also noticed that the brain cells of PD patients contained small spherical structures the size of a red blood cell surrounded by a clear halo. Tretiakoff call them "