Parkinson’s disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects movements, such as talking, walking and writing.

Parkinson's is caused by the loss of cells in the brain that produce dopamine, an important neurotransmitter (a chemical that carries signals between the neurons in the brain), which enables us to perform smooth, coordinated movements.

Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The other main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors and rigidity.

There is no cure, nor do we know why people get the condition.

Who is affected?

There are approximately 120,000 people in the UK with Parkinson’s disease with a further 10,000 (approx) people diagnosed each year.

The condition generally develops in people over the age of 50, although younger people can be diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s.

How we help

We have funded research into Parkinson’s at UCL Institute of Neurology including the following two projects:

  • The use of the Deep Brain Stimulation technique to help understand why some Parkinson’s patients respond well to the treatment, while others do not. Led by Dr Thomas Foltynie, Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders at the UCL Institute of Neurology.
  • Research into genes linked to neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using the genetic material available at the UCL Institute of Neurology. Led by Dr Patrick Lewis, a Senior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Neurology's Department of Molecular Neuroscience.