Recently, I've watched a documentary about how, in the 1980s, people were buying and using drugs from the streets and then becoming paralyzed a few days afterwards. The drugs that they were using were contaminated with a substance called MPTP, which was able to selectively destroy dopamine-producing cells in the brain, essentially causing end-stage Parkinson's Disease, but leaving higher cognitive functions intact. Is MPTP unique in its ability to selectively destroy a certain type of cell, or are there other substances that can selectively destroy certain body cells while leaving the others intact? If yes, then by what mechanism do they work?

  • $\begingroup$ A general comment. MPTP in itself is not toxic but is converted to a toxic substance (MPP+ ?) by the enzyme monoamine oxidase and inhibitors of MAO prevent development of Parkinson's -like disease in monkeys ref. As regards your question, streptozotocin, which destroys the pancreatic beta cells, and so induces diabetes, comes to mind (but I very little about more about it) $\endgroup$ – user1136 May 4 at 10:34

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