Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-9

Clinical Neurotoxic Disorders : Past, Present and Future


Correspondence Address:
Devika Nag


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Neurotoxins have existed on the earth from times immemorial. Old neurotoxic disorders were due to ingestion/ exposure of heavy metals and food like lathyrus sativus over a long period of time. The 20th Century with rapid industrialsation and expanding chemical and drug industry has spawned several new, hitherto unknown disorders. Old disorders continue to exist e.g. fluorosis, arsenicosis, lathyrism, manganism and lead neuropathy, along with new diseases like Minamata disease, subacute myelo optic neuropathy (SMON), MPTP-Parkinsonian syndorme, triorthcresyl phosphate (TOCP) neuroparalytic disease, pesticide induced seizures, tremor and neuropathy, solvent encephalopthy, antipileptic drug foetal syndrome and excitotoxin induced behavioural disorders. Studies on pesticides Organochlorine and organophosphates, synthetic pyrethrins, solvents, heavy metals and substances abuse in the Indian context confirm the neurotoxic nature of many synthetic substances. Future problems envisaged are of concern to clinical neurologists as many of these neurotoxic disorders mimic syndromes of well known neurological disease. The new millenium poses a challenge to the clinician as newer compounds in industry, food, drugs and chemical war agents are being developed. Molecular genetics has advanced rapidly with release of the human genome map. Animal cloning and genetically modified plant products have entered the food chain. How safe are these new inventions for the central nervous system is a big question? India cannot afford disasters like Union Carbide's Bhopal gas leak nor be a silent spectator to manipulative biotechnology. Unless it is proven beyond all doubt to be a safe innovation, Chemicals have to be cautiously introduced in our environment. To Study, ascertain and confirm safety or neurotoxicity is an exciting challenge for the neuroscientists of the 21st century.


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