MJFF continues to work to address research focused on the unmet needs of people living Parkinson’s disease (PD) today. The Foundation’s partnership with Jim Greene, MD, PhD, of Emory University addresses one such need - the gastrointestinal symptoms that affect many with PD. To date, these symptoms of PD are poorly understood, and there is a dearth of treatment options to address them, in part because researchers lack a model that could be used to test new therapies. MJFF has been funding Dr. Greene to develop such a model since 2006.
In September, Dr. Greene published a paper in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease explaining the current state of modeling gastrointestinal problems in PD.
In addition, Dr. Greene is heading a collaboration between neurologists and GI specialists to examine the ‘enteric nervous system’ (ENS) — a nervous system located in the stomach and intestines that contains, in both humans and pre-clinical models, nearly as many nerve cells as the brain. With follow-on funding from MJFF, the researchers are now building on Dr. Greene’s earlier results and examining the ENS in parkinsonian pre-clinical models to determine which nerve cells are damaged and thus responsible for causing the GI symptoms — information that will dramatically speed efforts to develop therapeutic targets for new GI treatments.