PARKINSONíS INSTITUTE AND CLINICAL CENTER PUBLISHES A REVIEW ON THE STATE OF PARKINSONíS REASEARCH IN NATURE GENETICS
 
Published Friday, December 4, 2015

PARKINSON’S INSTITUTE AND CLINICAL CENTER PUBLISHES A REVIEW ON THE STATE OF PARKINSON’S REASEARCH IN NATURE GENETICS

Sunnyvale, CA, December 1, 2015----The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center is being recognized for it’s comprehensive analysis of the state of Parkinson’s research in a newly published article in Nature Genetics magazine. The Nature Genetics review article illustrates the work the Parkinson’s Institute has been conducting over many years to understand and solve this neurodegenerative mystery with the goal of focusing, and potentially redirecting, the entire Parkinson’s research field.

To date, there are approximately one million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease and almost sixty thousand new cases are diagnosed each year. By the year 2040, one in five Americans will be over the age of sixty-five and as these demographic shifts occur, the number of Parkinson’s patients is anticipated to increase exponentially. In addition, approximately 200,000 people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before the age of 40.

It's been almost 200 years since James Parkinson first published "Essay on the Shaking Palsy" and although the field has made significant progress, the puzzle of Parkinson’s still remains elusive. In fact, the medical and scientific research fields have identified a vast number of genes indicated to cause Parkinson’s disease, but there is still no clarity on which genes are actually responsible for Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s disease is complex and affects multiple systems of the body with a variable disease trajectory. The researchers and clinicians at the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center embarked upon the task of looking across the vast wealth of Parkinson’s research literature available, along with their archives of over 25 years of historical clinical and research data, to identify critical factors that could provide some further clarity to the field. CEO of the Parkinson’s Institute, Carrolee Barlow, MD, PhD, remarks “It’s absolutely critical that future research be grounded in both patient and research data to ensure that we are seeing the bigger picture and analyzing all the layers of information associated with a disease including genetic information, clinical symptoms and neuropathology data.”

There are other neurodegenerative diseases that clinically appear to mimic Parkinson’s, but have different disease or molecular pathology. According to the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Parkinson’s Institute, Dr. J. William Langston, “First, we carefully reviewed the literature and then examined our over 25 years of patient data and samples in combination with the literature to see what new insights surfaced. Then, we evaluated the clinical, neuropathological and peripheral autonomic features of all forms of parkinsonism associated with genetic causes, and only three of these fell into the Parkinson’s category—Alpha Synuclein (SNCA), Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) and glucocerebrosidase (GBA).”

Although much has yet to be discovered about Parkinson’s disease and finding an ultimate cure, there are many indications that this type of data driven research can help to answer questions and narrow the precursors to the disease. Dr. Birgitt Schuele, MD, Director of Gene Discovery and Stem Cell Modeling, at the Institute notes, “If we can zero in on the genetic culprits of Parkinson’s disease, we’re more likely to utilize patient-derived stem cell models (iPSCs) for better therapeutic decisions and research without increasing the noise and confusion in the field.”

In conclusion, Dr. Barlow states that “Overall, we hope to stimulate data-driven discussion of similarities and differences in the several mechanisms operating in parkinsonian movement disorders and neurodegenerative brain disease that will focus the field so we can move forward with greater clarity and speed.”

If you would like a copy of the Nature Genetics article, please contact Susan Denison, Donor Services Coordinator, at sdenison@parkinsonsinstitute.org or call her at (408) 542-6676.


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