Sonic Hedgehog; A Potential Therapeutic Treatment For Parkinson’s


by Naba Batool

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Deterioration of the brain cells is the primary reason for this neurodegenerative disease. The current treatment method of this disease involves the administration of L-dopa.

L-dopa which is given to the patients gets converted into dopamine in the body. But there is a side effect of this drug. L-dopa can lead to involuntary body movements. This situation is known as LID.


Deep brain stimulation is an invasive procedure that is used to treat patients who are suffering from LID. in this process, a medical device is placed inside the patient’s body. With the help of tiny electrodes, a connection is established. This device then either interrupts or stabilizes the nerve impulse that is causing these movements. But not every Parkinson’s patient who is dealing with LID is eligible for this surgical procedure.

This issue was the primary focus of new research at CUNY School of Medicine at City College New York. This study was helmed by Dr. Kottman and his team.

Based upon a protein named Sonic Hedgehog(Shh) which is involved in the motor learning skill and is a chemo signal for the proper development of the brain and spinal cord. The derived hypothesis of the research was that Shh is primarily involved in motor skill learning and degeneration of dopamine can diminish its expression. All these issues serve as contributing factors and thus lead to the onset of LID.


The use of animal models such as rodents and non-human primates then further fueled the research. With genetic modifications, the symptoms of Parkinson’s were introduced to the test subjects, and then they received intense L-dopa treatment which lasted for weeks. After the onset of LID, the results were compared for authentication with the control group.

Evidence of the study suggested that there exists a positive correlation between Shh and LID. low levels of Shh increase the chances of LID and high levels of Shh can not only repress but can also reverse LID. Thus this research promises a new avenue of Parkinson’s disease which is more sustainable and economical.