WPC 2013 Roving Reporters: Day Zero Science

The 3rd World Parkinson Congress includes three days of sessions discussing the latest in Parkinson’s science and care.

PDF’s reporters are listening in and reporting back to let you know what they have seen and heard. In particular, PDF Research Advocates Kim and Libbe Erickson of Stillwater, MN, were busy yesterday reporting on three sessions – covering treatments such as levodopa, the search for biomarkers and updates on deep brain stimulation. Here are their reports:

Kim Erickson

Kim Erickson

New Science and Ongoing Research
In this session, Dr. Leo Verhagen from Rush University, Professor Peter Lewitt from Henry Ford Hospital, Dr. Pahwa from University of Kansas Medical Center and Dr. Robertson from Neurodyn Inc., covered three topics: potential new ways of delivering levodopa, the use of natural products to develop new therapies and norepinephrine as a promising therapeutic target.

Levodopa is the gold-standard medication for Parkinson’s. The goal for levodopa and new dopaminergic products is to reduce off- time, allow people to take doses less frequently and reduce dyskinesias. Here are three methods being studied:

  • One new delivery method that will be available soon is a gel form of levodopa given by gastric tube along with an extension into the small intestine. Studies show that the delivery method may increase on time and decreases the on time with dyskinesias.
  • A second delivery method is an inhaled preparation of levodopa which is effective almost immediately, giving quick relief from episodes of freezing.
  • A third under development for use in the US IPX066, a bead type capsule preparation of levodopa/carbidopa, should be available soon. It is an extended release medication and attains therapeutic levels quickly- less off time and fewer doses per day.
Libbe Erickson

Libbe Erickson

The Role of Imaging in Diagnosis and as a Window into Progression and Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease
Presented by Dr. Marek and Dr. Pavese, the exciting point for us involved with advocating for research was the push to find biomarkers.

All aspects of Parkinson’s treatment and research lean on being able to determine if a person indeed has PD, where in the disease progression they are, and how treatments have affected them.

  • The PPMI (Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative) study is using imaging as a large part of data collection in the quest to find biomarkers.
  • Another interesting study for further study is the PARS (Parkinson Associated Risk Study). It is a groundbreaking study to test a strategy to evaluate individuals for early signs of Parkinson’s disease or other neurological disorders. The goal, ultimately, would be to identify people at risk and ultimately prevent PD before it starts. For example, a person with a deficit in smell may have a dopamine transporter scan. 50 percent of those scanned showed changes and many of those went on to develop PD.

Both studies above are recruiting people with and without PD! For further information, visit the study websites. Find information on PPMI here, and on PARS, here.

The Role of Deep Brain Stimulation in Management of Parkinson’s Disease
Presented by Dr. Michael Okun and Professor Deuschel, this was an interesting and lively presentation about some of the myths and facts about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

The most interesting facts we heard were about the use of DBS earlier in the course of the disease. Studies are showing some short-term correlation with earlier DBS and an improvement in UPDRS score and quality of life ratings.

Currently, the criteria need to undergo early DBS are:

  • definitive diagnosis of PD
  • levodopa gives you 50 percent improvement of symptoms, fluctuations in the disease
  • no cognitive disorders,
  • no comorbidities
  • no depression
  • a stable social situation
  • and access to a multidisciplinary team of professionals. Any DBS requires a team approach for the best chance of success- neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and financial counselors as well.

Dr. Okun also has a book out, “Parkinson’s Treatment, 10 Secrets to a Happier Life”. If his presentation is any indication, the book is worth a look!

Thanks Kim and Libbe! For more information on DBS, also browse the PDF fact sheet here. For additional questions, be sure to contact PDF’s HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or info@pdf.org. Stay tuned for more scientific reports from days one through three!

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