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Not Enough Info About Effects of Cannabis Use, Parkinson’s Foundation States

cannabis

A consensus statement from the Parkinson’s Foundation declares there isn’t enough data yet to draw reliable conclusions about whether medical cannabis products might be beneficial in treating Parkinson’s disease, and calls for more research.

For people with Parkinson’s who choose to use such products, the statement urges caution, stressing the importance of open communication with healthcare providers, starting at low doses, and vigilantly monitoring for possibly harmful side effects.

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of biologically active compounds, the most notable being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis use, and cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce a “high” but has other effects on the body.

In recent years, the plant has garnered renewed interest — by both researchers and the lay public — for its potential medical applications. Medications containing THC and/or CBD, such as Epidiolex and dronabinol (brand names Marinol and Syndros) have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating specific forms of epilepsy and symptoms related to AIDS and cancer, respectively.

In the U.S., medicinal cannabis is federally illegal, but is approved for medicinal and/or recreational use in 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia and several territories. In 17 of these states, medical cannabis is approved for Parkinson’s.

The Parkinson’s Foundation convened a group of 40 experts to draft a statement regarding the use of cannabis products in Parkinson’s in March  2019. The group included clinicians, researchers, a nurse, a pharmacologist, members of industry and non-profit organizations, staff from the foundation, and people with the disease.

At present, there is an abundance of hearsay regarding the use of cannabis in Parkinson’s; however, there is a lack of hard data. Only four randomized clinical trials have been conducted testing cannabis products in people with Parkinson’s.

“These trials have uniformly failed to find evidence of benefit,” the statement says. “However, the of lack consistency in the ways the studies were conducted, the ways in which cannabis was given, and the way outcomes were measured, make these studies inconclusive at best.”

Other limitations of these trials include a low sample size (the largest had 24 participants) and poorly defined placebos. None of the trials tested smoked cannabis, which is the most common method for recreational cannabis use.

Other studies have reported benefits of cannabis in Parkinson’s ranging from reduced tremors to improved sleep and lessened pain. However, these results came from surveys of current users and open-label studies (meaning both the participants and the researchers knew what the participants were receiving).

“We thus do not know whether these reported effects are truly related to cannabis use or may represent placebo effects or other biases in the study,” the statement says. “We also do not know the optimal dose or types of cannabinoids to use for PD symptoms.”

There is a fair amount of evidence that cannabis use could have undesirable side effects. For instance, inhaling smoke of any kind is liable to cause lung damage. Ingesting cannabis (edibles) can easily lead to too-high doses, which is particularly a concern given the lack of federal regulation of cannabis-containing products.

Additionally, the enzymes in the liver that break down cannabinoids are often involved in processing other medications, so there is a potential for drug-drug interactions.

For those reasons, the statement stresses that people with Parkinson’s who  choose to use cannabis products should communicate closely and honestly with their healthcare providers. Medical cannabis should be treated like other medication, starting with small doses and gradually increasing, with vigilant monitoring for side effects.

The statement also recommends that, where possible, people work with a single dispensary. Because of the lack of regulation for cannabis products,  there is no guarantee that one dispensary’s products will be the same as another’s, even if they are identically labeled.

Collectively, the statement emphasizes the need for further research on the use of cannabis products in Parkinson’s, while offering some guidance for people who choose to use such products in the absence of hard evidence.

“There is a huge unmet need to develop well-designed studies that will address the question of whether cannabis-based medicines offer therapeutic benefit in the treatment of motor and non-motor symptoms of PD … The number of unanswered questions about the use of cannabinoids in PD far outweighs what we know,” the statement says.

“Ultimately, more research on medical cannabis is still needed to determine whether its use can have positive or adverse effects for Parkinson’s disease symptoms,” James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release.

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Parkinson’s Foundation, VA Join to Help US Veterans Manage Disease

veterans and Parkinson's

The Parkinson’s Foundation and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are collaborating on an effort to improve the health and life quality of veterans with Parkinson’s disease.

The two want to provide people who served in the U.S. Armed Forces with better resources and ways to manage Parkinson’s, a disease that affects nearly 1 million people in the country and about 110,000 veterans, half of whom are at least 65. Globally, nearly 10 million people are living with this disease.

“VA and the Foundation are working to increase access to information about Parkinson’s disease,” John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. “Educating and training VA staff on disease management and therapies, along with improving veterans’ access to direct health services related to the disease is a paramount objective.”

The nonprofit organization currently offers information of help in managing Parkinson’s, with topics including diet and nutrition, emotional wellness, advice for the newly diagnosed, activities of daily livingdental health, sexual health, living alone, and talking to children the disease.

A foundation webpage addresses caring for a veteran with Parkinson’s. In addition to caregiver resources, the organization provides a guide for caregivers, information about depression and other non-movement symptoms, and tips on how to prepare for hospitalizations.

VA resources specific to care partners of patients include what caregivers need to know, and Parkinson’s research, education, and clinical centers. On the second Tuesday of each month, the agency also presents a free telephone education and support conference for veterans with Parkinson’s and their  caregivers.

Many military veterans with Parkinson’s have access to specialized medical care through the VA. Visit this foundation site or this VA site to apply for care and benefits. Here are basic eligibility requirements, and information about VA healthcare for elderly veterans.

In some instances, veterans can tie their disease to their U.S. military service. Those who served from 1962 to 1975 are at an increased risk of the progressive disease due to the military’s tactical use of the herbicide known as Agent Orange.

“This collaboration ensures veterans diagnosed with Parkinson’s have access to the information and resources they need to better manage their health,” said Robert Wilkie, VA secretary. “The joint effort enhances the multitude of services that care teams at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provide to veterans with Parkinson’s disease.”

Go here for VHA videos of stories from veterans who are living with Parkinson’s. The integrated healthcare system serves 9 million enrolled veterans annually.

A recent study found that U.S. veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder, or who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, are at a two times higher risk of rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, a risk factor for Parkinson’s.

In addition to its work to improve patient care, and the Parkinson’s Foundation is committed to advancing research toward a cure.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Q&A Provides Guidance From Experts on COVID-19

COVID-19 and Parkinson's

While there’s no evidence that people with Parkinson’s disease are more susceptible to contracting illness, COVID-19 tends to be more severe in the elderly and those with chronic diseases. Because of this, patients should take extra precautions to avoid contracting the disease, experts say.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parkinson’s Foundation (PF) recently presented a live online question-and-answer event featuring Michael S. Okun, MD, the nonprofit’s medical director, and Fred Southwick, MD, an author and infectious disease expert. Both physicians are from the University of Florida Health, a PF Center of Excellence.

A video of the discussion may be viewed here.

In an overview of COVID-19, the experts emphasized that the highly infectious novel virus should be taken very seriously, particularly since most Parkinson’s patients are middle age at diagnosis.

“I’ve been studying infectious diseases for over 40 years, and I have to tell you this is by far the most dangerous virus that I’ve encountered and the worst epidemic in my career,” Southwick said during the discussion.

Still, it’s vital for Parkinson’s patients of all ages to remain calm during the outbreak and take preventive measures.

“You can’t panic,” he said. “You should respect this virus and you should follow the infection control protocol.”

According to the foundation, key steps include frequent hand washing, staying home and practicing social distancing, rescheduling non-urgent doctor appointments, obtaining three-months’ worth of medication supplies, talking with healthcare providers before bringing home a family member from a nursing facility, avoiding flights and travel, and getting pneumonia and flu vaccines.

To minimize “cabin fever” during prolonged periods at home, patients are encouraged to call or do video chats with family and friends often, and take walks. Those who do get sick should alert their doctor’s office before a visit so staffers are prepared to protect the patient and others.

According to Okun, in general, the Parkinson’s immune system is similar to that of individuals who don’t have Parkinson’s.

“Some of the cells that are part of the immune response in Parkinson are a little different … and we’re using that to understand Parkinson and engineer therapies,” he said. “But the immune system functions in a relatively normal way.”

One problem, however, is that Parkinson’s patients are more susceptible to lung infections that can make it hard to take deep breaths. Because COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, individuals with Parkinson’s are at a higher risk.

“The danger is in the respiratory tract, and unfortunately, the muscles and the gag reflex and cough reflex in Parkinson’s patients can be impaired,” Southwick said. “So if they get this infection, because of the physical constraints, they are at higher risk. If you can’t take deep breaths, it’s harder to oxygenate.”

Furthermore, the experts said most over-the-counter cold and flu medications are generally safe to use with Sinemet (levodopa-carbidopa), an approved Parkinson’s therapy that increases dopamine levels in the brain to help with motor function. They cautioned, though, that monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors — molecules that modify metabolic pathways that lead to the breakdown of dopamine — should not be mixed with dextromethhorphan, common in many cough syrups. Patients who have hypertension should avoid medications that contain the decongestant pseudoephedrine.

In general, Parkinson’s and medicines used to treat it lower blood pressure. Patients who may have been exposed to the coronavirus should watch out for fainting or dizziness when standing or otherwise changing position. In any case, it’s important to establish the cause before beginning treatment.

Despite widespread reports, Okun and Southwick said there is no evidence that ibuprofen worsens COVID-19, but that if patients have concerns, they may consider Tylenol or another alternative.

They also suggest that, in lieu of in-person exercise classes and support groups, patients exercise safely at home, and use online resources such as the PF YouTube channel and PD Conversations.

For further questions about COVID-19 and Parkinson’s, call the Parkinson’s Foundation’s helpline specialists at 800-4PD-INFO. Go here for the PF’s latest information on the coronavirus.

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Parkinson’s Foundation’s ‘Care Partner Summit’ Online Only This May 16

caregiver summit

With a focus on the unpredictable path often facing caregivers, the Parkinson’s Foundation is again hosting a free-of-charge, English-Spanish bilingual summit for those helping Parkinson’s patients with their daily needs.

But the Care Partner Summit (Cumbre Para Cuidadores) on Saturday, May 16, will be exclusively online — due the coronavirus, COVID-19, “viewing parties” planned nationwide for that day are postponed for one year.

The live Miami program and its assorted coast-to-coast viewing parties are now set for May 15, 2021.

Sponsored by Acadia Pharmaceuticals, the May summit will feature a series of expert-led panels, welcoming questions submitted by anyone caring for someone living with Parkinson’s, including spouses, partners, children, or friends. Panel topics will focus on cognitive changes, mental health, self-care, and practical planning.

Sessions will take place that day from noon to 3:30 EST (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CST, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. MST, and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PST).

With its theme “Planning for the Unpredictable Path of Parkinson’s Caregiving,” this summit’s goal is to provide encouragement, education, and resources to help caregivers better manage those unexpected bumps. Parkinson’s is a complex condition, and its symptoms and their progression can be different for each patient. This affects caregiving.

“The Parkinson’s Foundation Care Partner Summit helps to prepare care partners with tools and resources to make life better for themselves and their loved one with PD,” John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. “This event also allows us to address the needs and priorities of our care partner community, and support them throughout every stage of their PD journey.”

Go here to register in English or Spanish. A video of the Foundation’s first bilingual summit, which focused on self-care and caregiving, is available here.

“Acadia is proud to be the presenting sponsor of this important initiative to support Parkinson’s disease caregivers and the development of educational tools and resources for the patient community,” said Ponni Subbiah, MD, Acadia senior vice president, global medical affairs and chief medical officer.

Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated one million U.S. residents — 60,000 new cases diagnosed annually— and 10 million individuals globally.

Acadia is focused on developing and commercializing treatments addressing unmet medical needs in diseases of the central nervous system, including Parkinson’s.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Awards $30K to First 3 Winners of Physical Therapy Faculty Grants

physical therapy

The first three winners of the Parkinson’s Foundation’s new Physical Therapy Faculty Award will use their up to $10,000 grant for projects aimed at putting exercise to work in improving patients’ lives.

The program underscores an increasing need, as more patients live longer, for physical therapists trained in Parkinson’s. The disorder affects roughly seven to 10 million individuals globally, including 1 million in the United States. And the number of people with this neurodegenerative disorder is expected to double by 2030.

Grant awardees are graduates of the nonprofit’s Physical Therapy Faculty Program, focused on improving physical therapy care by training experts who can, in turn, educate future practitioners. The 40-hour program offers an immersion into the latest scientific findings in Parkinson’s research and care.

“We are delighted to have a program that supports physical therapy faculty leaders who are educating the next generation of PTs [physical therapists] about Parkinson’s care,” said John Lehr, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, in a press release.

“We wanted to take this support one step further by launching a seed grant funding program that will allow our PT faculty alumni to further develop their independent projects and enhance their impact on the Parkinson’s community,” Lehr added.

In general, physical therapists help Parkinson’s patients maintain use of their limbs, improve fitness and mobility, relieve pain, and help with breathing, with a goal of preventing permanent physical disability. Their programs aid patients in gaining greater their strength and endurance to improve movement and control.

The foundation award, which includes a yearlong mentorship, will fund work proposed by its three winners. These leaders and their projects are:

  • A professor of physical therapy at Western Carolina University, Lori Schrodt, PT, PhD, will set up academic partnerships with community groups to teach physical therapy students how to better assist patients and their caregivers. The collaborations are expected to extend the continuum of care and services available through the local programs.
  • Sarah Fishel PT, DPT, is an assistant professor of physical therapy at Ithaca College. By comparing a land-based exercise program to an aquatic-based one, she hopes to determine how well a “highly challenging” balance training program assists in preventing falls and improving patients’ balance.
  • An associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Michigan-Flint, Amy Yorke, PT, PhD, plans to track the effectiveness of a community-based exercise program on participants’ cardiovascular systems. She will then use the data to develop a heart rate monitoring protocol that community programs might use to monitor the benefits of exercise in people with Parkinson’s.

“While evidence supports how the increase of cardiovascular intensity during exercise can lead to neuroprotection, there is no monitoring system in place that can track the heart rate of people with PD,” Yorke said. “This funding … will allow us to establish a protocol by developing a heart rate monitoring process.”

Applications are now being accepted for the Physical Therapy Faculty Program training at three sites: Boston University, the Oregon Health & Science University Parkinson Center of Oregon, and Washington University in St. Louis.

More information is also available here.

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Parkinson’s Foundation, Zelira Crafting Survey on Cannabis Use and Possible Benefits

medical cannabis

Zelira Therapeutics, an Australia-based medical cannabis company, has partnered with the Parkinson’s Foundation to learn more about patients’ usage and understanding of medical cannabis and hemp-derived treatments.

Zelira and the organization are developing a survey looking at current use and perceived benefits of medical cannabis among those with Parkinson’s (PD).

The partnership marries the nonprofit’s scientific understanding of this disease with Zelira’s experience in pharmaceutical and condition-specific medical cannabis product development. The company participated in the foundation’s first conference  focused on medical marijuana and PD last year.

“The challenge for people with Parkinson’s is clear, as there is a lack of definitive studies informing clinicians and patients with Parkinson’s about the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis,” said Tom Borger, Zelira’s chief business officer, in a press release.

“One of the objectives of the survey and this collaboration is to provide guidance to people with Parkinson’s about the need for clinically validated medical marijuana and hemp-derived [cannabidiol] CBD treatment alternatives,” he said.

Zelira and the foundation will jointly develop the survey — which will be sent to patients — and review results in preparation for a clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in PD.

Separately, Zelira will use survey results to inform development of clinically validated medical cannabis and hemp-derived cannabidiol medicines for PD patients, and to help guide patients in considering such alternative treatments. (Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive marijuana extract.)

“Many people with Parkinson’s disease are seeking help with their symptoms by trying various forms of medical cannabis,” said John Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “The volume and frequency of questions Parkinson’s Foundation receive from people with Parkinson’s regarding the safety and impact of medical cannabis and CBD has led us to examine this public health issue more fully, and to seek collaborations with leaders in the field from academia, government, advocacy groups and industry to provide the most accurate information possible.”

Zelira, he added, is devoted to helping patients understand the role that medical cannabis might play in managing daily symptoms.

“This effort is consistent with our focus on patients and our desire to provide them with as many treatment options as possible,” said Osagie Imasogie, Zelira’s founder and chairman.

Currently, evidence is lacking to support the use of medical marijuana in managing Parkinson’s symptoms. The issue is being researched, but mostly in small studies with and without control groups, so that results are conflicting, the foundation said in an article that followed the 2019 conference and cites a need for larger and more rigorously conducted research.

Observational studies have shown that cannabinoids — the active molecules in marijuana — may help with non-motor PD symptoms, including pain, anxiety, weight loss and problems sleeping. Controlled clinical trials have reported mixed results for treating motor symptoms such as tremor and rigidity.

In related news, an animal study reported that a compound affecting some of the same brain receptors as cannabis could help ease dyskinesia, the uncontrolled and involuntary movements that can follow levodopa treatment in Parkinson’s.

This disease is estimated to affect about 1 million U.S. residents and 10 million people globally.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Opens Fellowship Program for Nurses Seeking Specialty

nurses

The Parkinson’s Foundation has established a first Parkinson’s Nurse Fellowship program in the U.S., offering one year of training and support to working nurses who want to specialize in treating people with this progressive disease.

Applications are being accepted through Feb. 20 for the fellowship, worth up to $95,000 each, from registered nurses or those with a bachelor of science in nursing who have at least five years of experience and are interested in a career in Parkinson’s disease (PD) care and research.

The four fellows selected will be notified by March 10, the foundation announced in a press release.

They will undergo a yearlong training and mentoring at one of two sites: Oregon Health & Science University in Portland,  and the Struther’s Parkinson’s Center in Minneapolis.  Each is a Parkinson’s Centers of Excellence, a global network of 48 clinical centers recognized for their high quality of care for those with this disease.

“We recognize the crucial role that nurses play in caring for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said John L. Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation. “From ensuring medications are administered on time to supporting the transitions of care, they are consistently on the front lines of the PD community.

“This fellowship provides them with a unique training opportunity to enter the Parkinson’s space equipped with knowledge and first-hand research experience.”

Each fellow will be assigned a mentor to guide their learning about Parkinson’s. Awardees will also receive clinical training, and be expected to identify and design a research project.

Following the fellowship, fellows will be given a $50,000 grant to pursue and complete their research project.

Applicants should expect to work in the United States after finishing their fellowship.

“With this fellowship opportunity, we want to build a community of Parkinson’s nurse experts who not only know how to offer the best treatment possible for people with Parkinson’s, but also contribute to research on Parkinson’s and the roles nurses play,” said Eli Pollard, the foundation’s vice president, and chief training and education officer.

More information about this fellowship program is available here.

An estimated 1 million people in the United States are living with PD.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Adds 5 Sites to Its Free Genetic Testing and Counseling Effort

free genetic testing program

The Parkinson’s Foundation announced that it has added five sites to its national initiative that provides complimentary genetic testing and counseling to people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

In addition to helping patients better understand their disease, the program aims to improve Parkinson’s therapies — and enable personalized treatments — by advancing research into its genetic origins and differences.

The new PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease sites are Massachusetts General Hospital, Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Struthers Parkinson’s Center at Park Nicollet in Minnesota, the University of California San Diego, and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

They join Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, initiative’s first site.

All are part of the Parkinson’s Foundation Centers of Excellence network, made up of 48 leading medical centers worldwide, including 34 in the U.S. that treat more than 185,500 PD patients.

This pilot study’s goal is to enroll 600 people. Longer term goals are to establish 50 Centers of Excellence and Parkinson Study Group sites in the U.S. that can provide testing and counseling to some 15,000 Parkinson’s patients.

“Through the PD GENEration program, we can continue to improve Parkinson’s care by accelerating and supporting research,” said John L. Lehr, president and chief executive officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, in a press release. “We are thrilled to expand this unique initiative that offers the Parkinson’s community the opportunity to learn more about their diagnosis while helping scientists advance the understanding of the disease.”

Investigators will use test results in work to develop better PD therapies and personalized medicine. Understanding genetic differences across those with Parkinson’s can help reveal necessary clues about how and why each patient’s disease experience differs.

Another study goal is to encourage patients to take part in clinical trials based on their test results. Genetic tests for Parkinson’s are now either unavailable or unaffordable, and largely not covered by private health insurance. In many cases, genetic counseling is not included.

“This program will help us better understand how people with Parkinson’s experience symptoms and respond to treatments related to this disease so that scientists can start building the foundation for precision medicine in PD,” said James Beck, PhD, the foundation’s chief scientific officer. “Now, even more people with PD will have better access to their genetic data through their clinicians.”

Enrollment sites and contact information for the PD GENEration program can be found here. The main criteria for participation is a confirmed PD diagnosis. All data shared with the research community will be kept confidential, the foundation states.

“This is an exciting time for patients and clinician scientists as the genetic advances in Parkinson’s disease are allowing us to develop targeted therapies,” said Anne-Marie Wills, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“This large-scale genetic screening initiative will enable patients and their providers to identify genetic mutations which can lead to personalized treatments for people with Parkinson’s disease. We applaud the Parkinson’s Foundation in their efforts to move the field forward,” Wills added.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Grants $250K for Parkinson’s UK Treatment Project

Parkinson’s Foundation

As part of a new partnership with Parkinson’s UK, the Parkinson’s Foundation has granted the nonprofit $250,000 toward a prospective new treatment linked to mitochondrial function that is being developed in the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech program.

The grant will help advance a project aimed at uncovering new methods of potentially impeding brain cell death through stabilization of the source of energy necessary for cell survival — the mitochondria. It’s the first international funding for the Parkinson’s UK-led program and marks the beginning of a collaborative effort to move forward promising Parkinson’s (PD) treatment research.

“We are pleased to partner with Parkinson’s UK to further innovative research that will help the international PD community,” John Lehr, president and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. “This collaboration will help us better serve people living with Parkinson’s today while furthering the promise of a cure tomorrow.”

Parkinson’s UK and its supporters and collaborators each year invest more than $5 million in Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech — the organization’s drug discovery and development arm — focusing on projects with the potential to transform patients’ lives. Fueled by project-specific partnerships with some of the world’s top research organizations, the program’s goal is to invest $29 million by the end of 2021.

“We are delighted to receive this investment from the Parkinson’s Foundation to support a growing portfolio of projects in our Virtual Biotech,” said Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson’s UK. “While we have made huge strides in our research efforts, we have long recognized that we can’t do it alone. The Parkinson’s Foundation shares this philosophy that we’re better together, and their investment marks a new chapter that will help ensure the Parkinson’s community receives the new treatments it needs.”

With its grant, the Parkinson’s Foundation is focusing on a £98,000 (about $126,000) year-long project with the University of Sheffield that began in August called “Novel Mitochondrial Rescue Compounds.”

Through compound modification, scientists will seek to discover and develop a potential therapy that could protect the dopamine-producing brain cells affected by Parkinson’s. The hope is that the most promising study compound ultimately will result in prospective brain cell-protecting treatments that could slow PD progression and enhance patients’ lives.

Parkinson’s is caused by the death or malfunction of dopaminergic neurons, which regulate muscle movement and coordination. To do their job, these nerve cells require large amounts of mitochondra-provided energy. Studies have widely suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a central role in the development of PD.

To date, the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech program has invested in seven drug discovery and development projects.

In addition to this collaboration, the two PD organizations also are working together on Parkinson’s Revolution, an indoor cycling fundraiser slated for Feb. 8 across the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The event is designed to highlight the benefits of exercise in PD while also raising funds for research and programs.

Since 1957, the Parkinson’s Foundation has invested more than $353 million in PD research and clinical care. Parkinson’s UK is Europe’s largest charitable funder of Parkinson’s research.

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Parkinson’s Foundation Launches International Cycling Event to Promote Exercise, Raise Funds

cycling event, fundraising

The Parkinson’s Foundation is launching a new initiative called Parkinson’s Revolution, a global cycling event designed to highlight the benefits of exercise in Parkinson’s disease while also raising funds for research.

A new signature event for the foundation, Parkinson’s Revolution is an indoor cycling program taking place Feb. 8 at studios in seven U.S. cities — Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The program will also involve select locations in Canada and the United Kingdom. The fundraising goal for each site is $10,000.

“Parkinson’s Revolution is a great example of how the international [Parkinson’s] community is rallying together to combine the benefits of exercise and critical fundraising for research in one event,” John Lehr, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “We are honored to work alongside Parkinson Canada and Parkinson’s UK to further our mission to make life better for people with Parkinson’s.”

In a high-energy environment including motivational music and instruction, participants of all abilities will select either a 90- or 45-minute ride as individuals or as part of a team. Supporters who can’t make it in person may saddle up at home or a local studio and raise funds as “virtual riders.” The foundation is asking each person to commit to fundraising a minimum of $250.

Money raised will go directly toward research, resources, and patient care. In addition to offering an opportunity to meet fellow supporters, each Parkinson’s Revolution event will include information about the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Click on a city or “virtual ride” at this site to register. After signing up, participants will be sent tools needed to reach — or exceed — fitness and fundraising goals.

Exercise is particularly important for Parkinson’s patients, helping them maintain balance, mobility, and the ability to do daily tasks. Scientists have found that those who exercise at least 2.5 hours weekly also experience a slower decline in their quality of life.

In addition, researchers have studied the brains of mice that exercised under conditions similar to a human being on a treadmill. While exercise did not increase the number of neurons or amount of dopamine in mice’s brains, it did prompt their brains to use dopamine more efficiently.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement and emotional response. A lack of it is associated with neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s, which affects nearly 1 million U.S. residents and 10 million individuals globally.

Watch this Parkinson’s Revolution video from the Parkinson’s Foundation:

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