Several months ago, I broached the issue of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in PD. There, my message was that you should look before you leap and take the time to understand what genetic testing would tell you (and whether you really wanted to know it). Implicit in that discussion is the need to have accurate results. This is different than the desire to have the weather forecaster tell you if it is going to rain or not tomorrow. For most people, inaccurate weather predictions are a nuisance more than anything.
Last month, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke stopped one of the largest clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease to date. This trial was investigating whether a nutritional supplement, creatine, might have potential to treat Parkinson’s disease.
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… Read More
From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs A recent paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and picked up by the popular press provided some provocative evidence that vitamin D may provide a short term benefit to some people living with Parkinson’s disease. PDF has covered the science regarding vitamin D for some time, for example in articles featured here and here. While the importance of vitamin D in people with PD is not new—most people with PD have too low a level—this paper now suggests that only some individuals may benefit from raising vitamin D levels…. Read More
From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs The genetic testing company 23andMe recently announced that it had reached its goal of enrolling 10,000 people with Parkinson’s into its genetic testing program. I personally think that is fabulous. While genetic abnormalities that lead to Parkinson’s disease are rare, finding these cases has been a boon to understanding PD for all. From the location and then discovery of the first PD gene by PDF’s first supported fellow, Roger Duvoisin, M.D., and his colleagues in 1996 to the more recent genetic discoveries of today, PDF steadfastly supports research into understanding how genetics and… Read More
From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs Recently, former President George H.W. Bush revealed in an interview with PARADE Magazine that he has vascular parkinsonism. While not meeting the criteria for true Parkinson’s disease (PD), vascular parkinsonism mimics many features of PD. As its name implies, vascular parkinsonism is often due to problems with the vessels in the brain regions that control movement and small strokes are the primary cause. Although small strokes will cumulatively worsen the symptoms of vascular parkinsonism, it is otherwise not considered a progressive neurodegenerative disease like PD. People with vascular parkinsonism often experience a “lower… Read More