More brain donors are needed to help research into Parkinson's disease says a leading UK charity, and younger donors especially.

Last week the Parkinson's Disease Society revealed that a campaign earlier this year has helped to more than double the number of donors on the Parkinson's Brain Donor Register, but more brains are still needed.

In April this year the Society ran a campaign that inspired more than 2,300 people to join celebrities like Jane Asher, Jeremy Paxman and John Stapleton to sign up as donors and leave their brain to Parkinson's research when they die.

They said that while the appeal was a huge success, there is still a need for additional donors, in particular younger people with Parkinson's.

President of the UK's Parkinson's Disease Society, Jane Asher, said:

"Our appeal for more brain donors this year has been hugely successful, but we still need more help."

"This distressing condition doesn't only affect older people -- sadly, young people can also be diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's," she added.

Not many people realize that 1 in 20 people with the disease is diagnosed before their 40th birthday.

Perhaps the most famous example of this was revealed in 1998 when the Canadian-American actor and author Michael J Fox went public with the fact he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, when he was just 30 years old.

Following the UK appeal for donors, twice as many women signed up as men, so more men are also needed, the Parkinson's Disease Society said in a statement.

Parkinson's disease affects people's quality of life in a big way, and for younger adults who are working and bringing up families it affects the whole family.

Donated brain tissue, along with the medical and lifestyle histories of donors helps researchers develop better diagnostic tools, treatments and one day, a cure.

Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Development at the Parkinson's Disease Societ told the media:

"We are passionate about finding a cure and better treatments for people with Parkinson's."

"We are delighted with the response to our appeal so far. Scientific research on brains from people both with and without Parkinson's is essential to help us move closer to our goal," he added.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, neurodegenerative movement disorder that affects nearly 5 million people worldwide, including around 120,000 in the UK.

Nobody knows what causes the majority of forms of Parkinson's, current treatments are not ideal and mostly serve to mask symptoms while the disease continues to get worse.

However, many experts believe that a cure is within reach.

-- more info on how to donate your brain from Parkinson's Disease Society (UK).

Additional sources: Michael J Fox Foundation, NHS Choices.

: Catharine Paddock, PhD

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