Old Drugs – New Cures?

jbeck.jpg From James Beck, Ph.D., Vice President of Research Programs

Using old drugs as new cures seems like a surefire winner. It may be. However, after attending a recent meeting outside London hosted by the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, a small yet impactful British charity, it is clear that this path is neither clear nor easy. A committee of experts at the meeting evaluated and prioritized dozens of existing compounds – many are drugs used to treat other diseases – based upon their potential to stop Parkinson’s disease.

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BigBrain – What Does It Mean?

jbeck.jpg From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs

This blog is part two in a series of three about the BigBrain.

Several weeks ago saw the announcement of a description of a new and highly detailed atlas of the brain, called BigBrain.  PDF wrote about how one person, making the decision to donate their brain, has made a significant contribution to science.  Indeed, that is true.  But what does this really mean for the future of neuroscience … and Parkinson’s research?

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Righting the Clinical Research "Enterprise"

rtodaro.jpgWhen opening the Sunday Review section of the New York Times this past weekend,  I did a double-take as a topic of much discussion here at PDF was featured front and center – trumping commentary on the state of the economy, international relations and the latest political debate.

“Do Clinical Trials Work?,” by Clifton Leaf serves as a primer on some of the key issues that prevail within the clinical research enterprise – the tension between scientific inquiry and patient priorities; the odds that study sponsors take when betting on the success of a potential therapy; and the disconnect between those who participate in a study and those who may actually benefit from the treatment being tested. It also serves as yet another wake-up call on why people who are living with a disease, be it cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, need to be formally included in research decision-making.

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Going 3D: The BigBrain Is A Gift That Keeps on Giving

brain_nl11This blog is part one in a series of three about the BigBrain.

Do you remember the moment of putting on 3D glasses in a movie theater? There was awe and excitement as stories and images that were flat came to life. There was similar excitement yesterday when researchers reported in Science that they have created BigBrain, a high resolution 3D digital image of the brain.

To understand the excitement, it’s important to understand that like a 3D movie, this image isn’t simply a flat picture of the brain. It is incredibly in-depth. Have you ever had an MRI? Well this is hundreds of thousands times more detailed.  Some have compared BigBrain to Google Earth, which shows much of the globe, piece by piece. Scientists think this up-close-and-personal view will help us understand how the brain works.

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Of Patents and Parkinson’s

jbeck.jpg From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs

Should or could a human gene be patented? On June 13th, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered their unanimous ruling regarding what has been called the Myraid Genetics case.  The plaintiffs in this case sought to invalidate Myriad’s patent on two genes that when mutated can lead to a significant increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.  Because of the patent for these two genes, Myriad, a clinical diagnostic testing company, was the only entity that was permitted to perform the clinical tests that can both inform women if they carried mutations in these genes and if they are at an elevated cancer risk.

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Expression vs. Insensitivity: A Message to Kanye West from a Person with Parkinson’s

ppac_palizzi_sqFrom Tom Palizzi
Chair, PDF People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council

Kanye West is without question a richly talented and multifaceted artist. With utmost respect for freedom of expression and the inherent controversial nature of art in general, there is, however, a fine line between expression and insensitivity.

“On Sight,” the opening track on Mr. West’s new album Yeezus, includes the lyrics:

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