The effort to cure diseases like Parkinson’s disease is on the minds of many people during this time of year. We are often traveling home to see loved ones where we learn about new diagnoses or new stages in the disease that they battle, or we are remembering those who bravely fought their battle with Parkinson’s, yet lost. It is understandable, therefore, why there is a push to fund only research that is the closest to bringing about a cure, so-called translational research.
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