Tag Archives: Dr. James Beck

WPC Science Day Two: Genetics Updates

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs Here are some additional scientific updates from this week’s 2nd World Parkinson Congress (WPC). Michael Schlossmacher, M.D., reported the results of his recent experiments that demonstrate that mutations in the GBA gene, which were recently identified as a major risk factor for Parkinson’s disease (PD), actually contribute to an increase in the levels of alpha-synuclein in nerve cells. Alpha-synuclein is the protein that accumulates in dying nerve cells and is the hallmark of Parkinson’s disease. This result provides a biological explanation as to the significance of these GBA mutations and their relevance… read more Read More

WPC Science Day Zero: Orthostatic Hypotension

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs Yesterday, an industry-sponsored session for clinicians and scientists was held prior to the official start of 2nd World Parkinson Congress. Largely a review of current medical management of PD, the session included one tidbit that I found particularly interesting – a comment made by Mark Stacy, M.D. He said that orthostatic hypotension, that is low blood pressure upon standing, is the most common, unrecognized symptom of PD. Up to 40 percent of people with PD experience orthostatic hypotension. Drugs that are currently approved to treat hypotension, like midodrine, work, but may work… read more Read More

Sham Surgery

In clinical trials that test new drugs for Parkinson’s disease, the process is fairly straightforward: some people get the real stuff and others get a sugar or placebo pill. It looks identical to the pill containing the new drug, but doesn’t offer the new compound. Here everyone (the person with Parkinson’s and physician) enters the trial knowing that a certain amount of deception is necessary from the outset….no one knows which pill is which. That is a good thing scientifically. There is an overwhelming consensus that double-blinded experiments, in which participants are randomly assigned to receive a placebo, result in… read more Read More

A Tale of Two Research Strategies

From James Beck, Ph.D., Director of Research Programs I hope you saw the news item PDF posted last week in which we announced $1.2 million in funding from two of PDF’s investigator-initiated grants programs for 13 Parkinson’s research projects. I want to share with you the approaches behind these two programs – both because they are philosophies of which I am particularly proud and more importantly, because we at PDF think these philosophies may also yield “the next great idea” for PD. First among these approaches is PDF’s goal to fund grassroots research, which we do through our International Research… read more Read More

Notes from AAN 2010: Part II

From James Beck Ph.D., Director of Research Programs As promised on Friday, here’s an additional update from last month’s American Academy of Neurology (AAN) annual meeting.In addition to the study mentioned above, another interesting one – presented by Nasim R. Khadem and Melissa J. Nirenberg, M.D., Ph.D. – investigated the rates of pharmacy errors in Parkinson’s medications. In this small, prospective study of 73 individuals, the investigators found that about ten percent of people with Parkinson’s had the incorrect Parkinson’s medication dispensed to them during a one-year period. Dr. Nirenberg alluded to this problem in her recent PD ExpertBriefing (and… read more Read More

Notes from AAN 2010: Part I

From James Beck Ph.D., Director of Research Programs Sorry for the delay in postings. As you will see in the next several posts, I have been a bit busy attending scientific meetings that have a direct impact upon Parkinson’s. The American Academy of Neurology annual meeting was held recently in Toronto. This a large international meeting where neurologists come together to learn and share new scientific progress (largely clinical) related to diseases of the nervous system. I already covered some of the new findings related to imaging and PD in my interview with David Eidelberg, M.D.,, but I wanted to… read more Read More