L-Dopa has long been the mainstay of therapy for Parkinson's disease but its long-term shortcomings, principally uncoordinated, spasmodic or irregular movements (dyskinesias) and fluctuating control of motor symptoms (on/off fluctuations), are well documented. The postulated neuroprotective properties of L-deprenyl, often used as an adjunct to L-dopa, are under scrutiny and doubts have also been raised regarding its safety. Alternative therapeutic approaches are clearly needed. In this review, Jim Hagan, Derek Middlemiss, Paul Sharpe and George Poste outline some new approaches to treatment, with an emphasis on novel, selective dopamine receptor agonists. In addition, Parkinson's disease is commonly thought to be caused by the neurotoxic effects of an unidentified agent but recent data indicate a greater genetic component than previously recognized. Developments in the genetics of Parkinson's disease may provide the key to the next generation of therapeutics.
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