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About the Foundation

Prioritizing Parkinson's Research for Patient Impact

In a field with countless high-merit scientific ideas, how does The Michael J. Fox Foundation decide which projects to push forward? CEO Todd Sherer, PhD, discusses the factors the Foundation's research staff consider in prioritizing projects with the greatest promise to impact patients' lives in the near-term.

 

The Michael J. Fox Foundation's “Patient-centric” Approach to Parkinson's Drug Development

Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman Debi Brooks explains how The Michael J. Fox Foundation keeps patient-relevant results at the center of its activities as it works to speed progress toward medical breakthroughs.

 

Sam Fox: Taking On an Extraordinary Challenge to Support Parkinson's Research

Sam Fox (no relation to Michael J. Fox), Outreach and Engagement Officer, talks about his efforts to raise significant funds for Parkinson's research through feats of extreme endurance — starting with running 2,650 miles in two months (a marathon and a half every day) in honor of his mother, Lucy, who lives with Parkinson's disease.

 

Specific Therapeutic Approaches

A Personalized Approach to Treating PD: Genetics' Critical Role in Parkinson's Drug Development

Maurizio Facheris, MD, MsC, associate director of research programs, discusses genetic changes that can increase risk of Parkinson's disease, and the research being done to develop new treatments based on the genetics of PD.

 

Improving Delivery of Levodopa: Solving the On-Off Cycle for More Consistent Symptom Relief

CEO Todd Sherer, PhD, discusses research efforts to improve delivery of levodopa in hopes of reducing the side effects of the drug and providing more consistent symptom relief.

 

Dyskinesia: Working to Solve “One of the Most Challenging Problems” Faced by Parkinson's Patients

CEO Todd Sherer, PhD, discusses dyskinesia — the uncontrollable movements that are a side effect of the gold-standard treatment for Parkinson's disease — and research efforts under way to solve this challenging problem for Parkinson's patients.

 

Azilect: Disease-modifying or Not?

Brian Fiske, PhD, vice president of research programs, explains the challenges of developing a so-called “disease-modifying” Parkinson's treatment — one that goes beyond symptom relief to actually slow or stop progression of the disease — and discusses why mixed results from clinical testing of Azilect (rasagiline) make it hard to know whether that drug is in fact disease-modifying.

 

A Parkinson's Vaccine?

MJFF research partner Achim Schneeberger, PhD, discusses his MJFF-funded work with Austrian biotech Affiris to develop a therapeutic vaccine against Parkinson's that would work by stimulating the immune system to break up clumps of alpha-synuclein protein, which are found in the brain of everyone with Parkinson's disease.

 

Deep Brain Stimulation: Right for More Parkinson's Patients than Once Was Thought?

Parkinson's patients Anthony Farinella, 62, and Ian Pearson, 60, discuss their experience with Parkinson's and their decision to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. DBS pioneer Andres Lozano, MD, PhD, reports on preliminary study results indicating that the benefits of DBS endure over the long term — results that, if validated, could lead to more patients being treated with DBS earlier in the course of their disease.

 

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease, Part 1: How It Works

In the first of a two-part series on the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS), Dr. Bill Marks of the University of California, San Francisco, discusses the effectiveness of the surgical treatment and what it has to offer for PD patients today.

 

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease, Part 2: What to Expect and New Surgical Directions

In the second of a two-part series on the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS), Dr. Bill Marks of the University of California, San Francisco, further discusses what PD patients can expect after undergoing DBS, and compares the effectiveness of different types of DBS procedures.

 

CoQ10: Does It Protect the Neurons that Die in Parkinson's Disease? Unfortunately, Research Says No

Controlled clinical research has not demonstrated any ability of natural supplement coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to slow progression of Parkinson's disease, but many patients believe in its power and continue to take the supplement. Doctors say there is likely no harm in taking CoQ10, but unfortunately no benefit either.

 

Neurotrophic Factors and Parkinson's Disease: Optimizing Outcomes through an Engineering Approach

Andy Grove, co-founder of microprocessor giant Intel, Parkinson's patient and senior advisor to MJFF, discusses the need for an engineering approach to Parkinson's drug development, and the need for a problem-solving approach in developing therapies based on neurotrophic factors, specialized proteins that protect dopamine neurons in the brain.

 

Depression and Parkinson's Disease

How Depression Impacts Parkinson's Patients

Depression affects as many as half of Parkinson's patients. Irene Hegeman Richard, MD, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry discusses the impact of depression on people with PD, why Parkinson's-related depression too often goes untreated, and warning signs that depression may be present.

 

New Research on Treating Depression in Parkinson's Patients

Irene Hegeman Richard, MD, discusses new research into the effectiveness of standard antidepressant medication on Parkinson's-related depression, as well as the latest thinking on drug interactions.

 

Exercise and Parkinson's Disease

Exercise and Parkinson's Disease, Part 1: Why Exercise May Help

Why would exercise hold particular benefits for people with Parkinson's disease? Giselle Petzinger, PhD, of the University of Southern California discusses some of the cellular mechanisms believed to be affected by exercise and how they may affect Parkinson's symptoms.

 

Exercise and Parkinson's Disease, Part 2: What Forms of Exercise Help Most?

In addition to its universal health benefits, exercise is believed to hold particular advantages for people with Parkinson's disease, many of whom report that regular exercise helps them manage symptoms and live better with PD. Lisa Shulman, MD, of the University of Maryland discusses her MJFF-funded research on the type, intensity and duration of exercise that may be optimal for Parkinson's patients.

 

Exercise and Parkinson's Disease, Part 3: The Exercise Helpline

People with Parkinson's disease are hungry for reliable information on how exercise and physical therapy may help them, and how to work activity into their weekly routine. Dr. Terry Ellis of Boston University set up the Parkinson's Exercise Helpline (888-606-1688) to provide education on the connection between Parkinson's and exercise, and connect patients with local experts who can help them get started.

 

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