From Skin Cells to Brain Cells: How PDF Fellows Are Using Genetics to Move the Field Forward

For the past three years, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation has been funding the research of young scientists in the New York metro area through our Lucien Côté Clinical Genetics Initiative.

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Dr. Beck (VP, Scientific Affairs, PDF), Dr. Pan and mentor Dr. Yue; Dr. Li and mentor Dr. Noggle; and me.

It’s exciting because in studying how genes are affected by Parkinson’s, we can learn more about what goes wrong with PD overall … even in cases without a genetic cause.

Last Wednesday, we had a visit with two awardees and their faculty mentors at PDF’s office to get an update about their research. Both awardees are using an experimental technique called “induced-pluripotent stem cells” where they can actually take skin cells from a person who lives with PD (caused by a certain genetic mutation) and transform them into brain cells!

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Two New Drugs for PD: A Caregiver & Advocate Speaks Out

Myra HirschhornLast month, it was announced that two new drugs were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, for treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Both drugs, Rytary™ and Duopa™, are updates to carbidopa/levodopa. They offer, respectively, a newer formulation and delivery method to reduce off-times for those with PD. In this Q&A, PDF speaks with Myra Hirschhorn, one of our trained Research Advocates, to understand the community reaction to the approvals. As part of the Parkinson’s Advocates in Research program, Myra has been trained in the drug development process, and educates her community about research.

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Pancakes for PD: Q&A with Students from Liberty College of Osteopathic Medicine

champs15_pancakesforpd_lucom_somaOn February 2, a group of future osteopathic doctors at the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) hosted Pancakes for Parkinson’s, a breakfast to raise awareness of PD and funds for PDF. The students, who make up the university’s chapter of the national Student Osteopathic Medical Association, welcomed 100 guests and raised $400. In this Q&A, Pranamya Mahankali, chapter leader, shares why the students got involved as PDF Champions, plus we link to a local news cast featuring the students’ efforts.

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The Many Lives of Levodopa

jbeck.jpgThe start of 2015 has been noteworthy for those with Parkinson’s disease (PD) as two new therapies  – Rytary™ and Duopa™ – were approved by the FDA at the start of January. Both therapies are updates to the gold-standard treatment of carbidopa/levodopa for those with PD. Manufacturers of both therapies hope to have the medications available on pharmacy shelves in the next few months.

Yes, carbidopa/levodopa first came into use around 1970. However, these new therapies address a real need that current carbidopa/levodopa or Sinemet cannot meet … and that is good news. PDF has covered what Rytary and Duopa are (check out my videos too on both here and here), but let’s discuss them in detail and find out what makes them different.

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Science Summary from SfN 2014

sfn-beth-paulWhen 30,000 neuroscientists gather together to talk about the brain, what can we learn about Parkinson’s disease?

Our team found out at the latest meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting in Washington, DC, which took place in November.

At the meeting, PDF’s James Beck, Ph.D., VP for Scientific Affairs, and Beth Vernaleo, Ph.D., Senior Manager, Research Programs, were joined by PDF Research Advocates Todd Hebb and Paul Zimmet, D.D.S., both of whom live with PD. (Drs. Zimmet and Vernaleo are pictured inset).

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From Dr. Atwell: Building the Next Generation of PD Clinicians and Scientists

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Thank you, on behalf of the Board of Directors, for those of you who have supported the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation this year, including those who have donated to this month’s special $500,000 challenge. Because of you, we have raised over $150,000 so far toward our goal, and every single gift will be doubled.

As a scientist, your support gives me hope. I spent many years working with the nation’s largest biomedical research agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to award billions of dollars in grants for neuroscience research, including Parkinson’s. And I knew of PDF’s reputation for supporting the next generation of clinicians and scientists.

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