“There are many unanswered questions about Parkinson’s disease, but as a result of advances in genetics, proteomics, epigenetics, imaging and other novel techniques, remarkable progress is being made.”
So wrote MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD, and Joseph Jankovic, MD, director of the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and a member of the MJFF Scientific Advisory Board, in a commentary published in JAMA Neurology yesterday.
Drs. Sherer and Jankovic lay out those questions and some areas of study that may point to the answers:
What is Parkinson’s?
“There is growing recognition that PD is not a single clinical-pathological entity, but that there are PD sybtypes.” Exploring different pathological characteristics and clinical symptoms could help uncover more about these types of PD and how to treat them.
How is PD diagnosed?
“The ‘holy grail’ of PD research is to find diagnostic biomarkers that will identify individuals at risk for PD.” Researchers are searching for biological markers of Parkinson’s disease in tissue from different parts of the body and are developing advanced imaging techniques to measure dopamine levels in the brain.
How can PD be prevented, slowed or reversed?
While there are a number of therapies in development, “it is too early to know whether ... drugs currently undergoing clinical trials will eventually meet the standard for the designation of ‘neuroprotective’ or ‘disease-modifying’ agents.” Current studies are testing different approaches to maximize the possibility of bringing one or more to market.
Read more from Drs. Sherer and Jankovic’s report on the JAMA Neurology site. A couple notes, however: The article is aimed at researchers, so uses scientific jargon, and is available in full only for subscribers or to purchasers. Any user, though, can preview the first page.