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Answering Your Questions from Our “Steps Closer to Stopping Parkinson's” Webinar

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In November, The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) hosted a webinar with expert panelists, moderated by Chief Scientific Officer Mark Frasier, PhD, to cover the latest breaking news in Parkinson’s research: treatments in testing to stop the disease, updates on research into environmental exposures and more.

Watch the webinar anytime on demand and view archived presentations of previous Third Thursday webinars on other important aspects of living with Parkinson's disease at

We received hundreds of questions from our live audience, and here share answers to some of the most common questions asked.

Focused Ultrasound vs. DBS: What Is the Difference and How to Choose?

Both focused ultrasound and deep brain stimulation (DBS) address misfiring circuits in the brain to help control movement problems such as tremor and stiffness and reduce medication side effects of dyskinesia. (Dyskinesia is uncontrolled, involuntary movement that may occur with long-term levodopa use and longer time with Parkinson's.) Both are not right for all people with Parkinson’s, such as those with memory and thinking changes.

The newer focused ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure performed while a patient is awake with no general anesthesia, surgical incisions or implanted hardware involved. Doctors use ultrasound beams to destroy brain cells. It is an irreversible and permanent procedure.

DBS requires brain surgery to implant electrodes that deliver stimulation to target brain cells. It can be removed and has been used to treat Parkinson’s for much longer. To learn more about deep brain stimulation, download our guide or watch our Ask the MD video.

If you are interested in one of these approaches, speak with your doctor to learn more and discuss the best option for you and your Parkinson’s disease.

What Are the Latest Drugs in Development for Parkinson’s Disease?

The Parkinson’s research field is consistently growing a diverse portfolio of approaches and programs to cure Parkinson’s. Hear more on the latest news from the pipeline in our recent podcast “Progress on the Path to a Cure.”

This year one MJFF-funded company, AC Immune, acquired therapeutics that target key Parkinson’s protein alpha-synuclein from another grantee: AFFiRiS. With this transition, development of a vaccine to stop Parkinson’s pathology marches onward. Learn more about this deal and other therapies targeting alpha-synuclein.

What Environmental Exposures Are Linked to Parkinson’s Disease?

Researchers work tirelessly to explore cures from all angles including removing environmental exposures that may increase Parkinson’s risk. Some elements tied to higher risk include air pollution, certain pesticides, and toxicant exposure during military service.

Our policy team is working to remove one such toxin from the environment. Paraquat is a commonly used herbicide linked to increased Parkinson’s risk. Tell Congress to ban it!

What Exercise and Diet Regimen Should I Follow?

There are no singular exercise or diet regimens that will suit everyone with Parkinson’s disease. Dietary recommendations should be based on an individual’s medical condition, medication, physical fitness, etc. However, doctors do recommend a healthy and balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. It is important to treat diet like medication — don’t make significant changes without consulting your doctor and dietitian. Learn more about healthy eating for Parkinson’s and download MJFF’s guide to diet and Parkinson’s.

Exercising is an excellent way to manage symptoms and potentially slow progression if it is done safely and consistently. Ask your doctor or physical therapist to create an exercise plan that best suits your lifestyle and stick with it. Learn more about exercise in our Ask the MD video.

Help contribute to research on the Parkinson’s experience — whether you have Parkinson's or not — join MJFF's Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).

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