Readers of this weekendís New York Times were met with a lesson in Parkinsonís as told by friend of MJFF Jon Palfreman, who was diagnosed four years ago. While labeled an opinion piece, Palfremanís essay is packed with facts on the experience of the disease and its biological underpinnings:
Bad signals disrupt communication between the brain and the muscles. This is one reason people with Parkinsonís have trouble picking up small objects and moving around fluently: Their motions are too hesitant, too small, too slow, too rigid, too shaky, too feeble and badly timed. These are symptoms of a brain in conflict with itself ...
... Hereís the theory scientists have come up with: Sometimes good proteins go bad. For multiple reasons (like genes, environment and age) proteins can ďmisfoldĒ and stick to other proteins. When proteins do this, they can become toxic.
He discusses the promise of research and the optimism of people living with Parkinsonís today:
Some researchers foresee the possibility that one day in the not too distant future they may be able to develop drugs to target these rogue proteins ... Parkinsonís patients like me take comfort from the idea that our insights can help unpack these diseases and assist in the scientific pursuit of better therapies and ultimate cures.
Palfreman is co-author of ďThe Case of the Frozen Addicts,Ē detailing the onset of Parkinsonís symptoms among a small group of drug users. He is also a professor of broadcast journalism at the University of Oregon and the author of the forthcoming book ďBrain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinsonís Disease.Ē Stay tuned for more on that publication.
Read Palfremanís full New York Times piece.