In DepthNEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES

Trials begin for a new weapon against Parkinson's: light

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Science  18 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6510, pp. 1415-1416
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6510.1415

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Summary

Several studies about to start will explore whether near-infrared (NIR) light can improve symptoms of Parkinson's disease—including a study in France in which a fiber optic cable implanted in patients' brains will deliver NIR directly to the substantia nigra, a region that degenerates in Parkinson's disease. Animal models and small tests in people have suggested benefits, but some mainstream Parkinson's researchers are skeptical because it's not clear exactly how light might protect the key neurons—or why it should have any effect at all on cells buried deep in the brain that never see the light of day. The encouraging hints seen so far in people could be the result of the placebo effect, skeptics say.

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