Total Pageviews

Monday, June 25, 2012

Parkinson's Disease Research: Botched Recipes

Most everyone knows Parkinson's Disease is caused by a loss of dopamine producing neurons in our brains, but most people don't know HOW the scientists get lab animals to have Parkinson's Disease symptoms so they can be used for research (they don't go looking for animals with shaky paws). I went to a Parkinson's Disease symposium hosted by the UCSD Movement Disorders Clinic and the Parkinson's Association of San Diego and found out. 

Back in the late 70's, the illegal drug culture spawned amateur home chemists who were cooking up concoctions in their kitchens, using available drugs (both over the counter and prescription) and anything they could find in chemistry sets and under the kitchen sink. They would try their creations out on themselves and friends and if the desired high was achieved, they would make huge batches and sell it to others.

typical illegal drug lab

This is what happened in the San Francisco, California, area back in 1982. One of these enterprising home chemists created something which he called New Heroin and began selling it to local addicts. The chemical abbreviation for his creation was MPPP, which stands for words I can't even begin to pronounce. Unfortunately, one day, he messed up his recipe (he was probably high at the time) and ended up producing MPTP, another long unpronounceable chemical abbreviation, instead.  

All of a sudden, addicts were showing up at area emergency rooms, looking like they had advanced Parkinson's Disease. The onset was swift and irreversible, something had killed off most of their dopamine producing neurons and the public was warned about a dangerous new drug out on the streets. Eventually, the home laboratory was found and destroyed, but not before dozens of addicts were adversely affected.

A Neurologist in the area, having been called in by the hospitals, realized the potential of this mistake and now, thanks to this botched recipe, scientists are able to give lab animals MPTP, or a variation of it, which causes them to have Parkinson's like symptoms, so they can be used for research.


The humor of this story: A stoned druggie screws up making a concoction to get himself stoned and ends up causing people to turn into stone and ultimately helps people with Parkinson's Disease get un-stoned. You can't get much more ironic than that.

Clicking on colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story or link.

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!


  1. Nice brief intro into history of MPTP in PD research, Jim B

  2. Puts the old saying We Learn from our Mistakes into whole new perspective, I had wondered how researchers inflicted Parkinsons on monkeys, thanks Bev for info.

  3. Good story. I never knew that. Very ironic!

  4. yes,good story,thank you for sharing..

  5. I have being researching about parkinson's disease and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful. Sinemet medication found useful to treat parkinsons disease.

  6. Good story Bev. Learned something today! :-)