National Parkinson Foundation and Parkinson’s Disease Foundation complete merger
Author: Almaz OhenePublished: 4 August 2016
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New integrated organisation will be a “formidable and effective force in the fight against Parkinson’s”
Two of the biggest Parkinson’s organisations in the US, the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF), have completed their merger. They will now operate as a new organisation called the Parkinson’s Foundation with offices in New York City and Miami.
John Kozyak, chair of the National Parkinson Foundation, said: “This merger is about the future and we are thrilled to have it completed. Millions of people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s. We owe it to them to move the science and care forward and the merger allows us to do just that even better.
“We are driven by the perspective, needs and priorities of people living with the disease and, together, we will be a formidable and effective force in the fight against Parkinson’s.”
The Parkinson’s Foundation has outlined the following three new focus areas:
1. Seeking a cure: We support promising scientific research by investing in individual and collaborative research and training projects as well as in an extensive network of research and medical centres in the United States and around the world.
2. Providing care and support: Until there is a cure, we remain focused on the care and wellbeing of people living with Parkinson’s today. This has always been, and remains, a hallmark of our leading research and educational work.
3. Championing a better future: To do all this, we will expand our advocacy and community outreach efforts to ensure that the response to this disease matches the urgent need.
Dr Michael Okun, co-administrator, Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration and NPF board member, said: “This merger will join two giants in the field, expanding the centre of excellence network, and enhancing the potential ability to fund more research in Parkinson’s disease.
“The NPF and PDF have both been premier organisations with amazing services for patients and families with Parkinson’s disease. The merger will synergise efforts and hopefully bring increased services to the community.”
About the National Parkinson Foundation
The National Parkinson Foundation was founded in 1957 by Jeanne C Levey, whose husband had the condition. Levey worked at the foundation until her death in 1979. Since 1982, the foundation has funded more than $189 million in care, research and support services. It has networks in the US, Canada and also internationally.
About the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
Founded in 1957 by William Beck, the PDF has funded more than $115 million worth of scientific research in Parkinson’s disease, as well as nearly $50 million in education and advocacy programs. The PDF primarily funded scientific research to find the causes of and a cure for Parkinson’s. It also offers educational programmes and support services for people living with the condition and their loved ones.
A “revolutionary” step in stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease?
Scientists in China have developed a method to help improve stem cell research in mice models of Parkinson’s – which could potentially lead to promising new treatments. The researchers, based at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, identified two cell surface markers of dopamine neurons, which are reduced in Parkinson’s. They injected cells with these markers into the brains of the mice and found that this resulted in “higher therapeutic potency” for improving motor symptoms of the condition. As part of their research, the team also worked to control the variability of donor cells, to help improve therapeutic outcomes for Parkinson’s cell therapy. The researchers, whose study was published in ‘The Journal of Clinical Investigation’, described the findings as a “revolutionary step on the road towards more effective and safer stem cell therapies”.
Could frequent nightmares be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease?
A new study has suggested that experiencing recurrent nightmares and bad dreams could be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers from the University of Birmingham, UK, used data from an existing US study that followed 3818 men, aged 67 or older, over a period of 12 years. Participants who reported experiencing bad dreams at least once a week were followed up. During the follow up, 91 people were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The results suggested that participants who had frequent bad dreams were twice as likely to develop the condition as those who did not. Commenting on the study, lead author Dr Abidemi Otaiku said: “While we need to carry out further research, identifying the significance of bad dreams and nightmares could indicate that individuals who experience changes to their dreams in older age – without any obvious trigger – should seek medical advice.”
More than £2m awarded to research on mitochondria and Parkinson’s disease
Researchers at UK biotech startup NRG Therapeutics are developing potential treatments that may help slow the progression of Parkinson’s by protecting the mitochondria – a part of every human cell that works to power chemical reactions. The company has now received a £2.68m award from government-backed agency Innovate UK to continue its research. Their research built upon previous findings that damage to mitochondria in the substantia nigra – an area of the brain associated with dopamine – may be linked to Parkinson’s. The scientists developed molecules that keep a ‘pore’ in the mitochondria closed, which stops calcium flowing into it, preventing a process that eventually ruptures the powerhouse of the cell and leads to its death. The new funding award follows previous investment from Parkinson’s UK and the Michael J Fox Foundation.