One day, we hope to offer treatments tailored to the individual needs of each person with Parkinson’s. But how can we do that if we don’t understand how genetics impact Parkinson’s? After all, our genes are part of what make us unique, including how they relate to our health. This issue came up last week in Nature, when a group of researchers released findings from research in which they analyzed 2,500 genetic studies conducted in 2016 that studied the genes of more than 35 million people. They compared this to a similar analysis from 2009. They found that in 2016, the… Read More
How did you spend your summer vacation? The students supported by PDF’s Summer Student Fellowship Program — a group that includes undergraduates and medical students — spend their summers working on PD-related research projects with mentors who have expertise in the field. Typically, fellowships are offered for 10 weeks with an award of $4,000. Recently, we sat down with former Fellow Will Johnson, M.S., a pharmacology student at Case Western Reserve University, who was awarded funding in 2013, for a project entitled, “Investigating the role of enzyme mediated neuronal protection in Parkinson’s,” to hear about his summer and what he learned about… Read More
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. 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… Read More
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.
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 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