Luxembourgers ruffle some feathers for Parkinson’s awareness
Author: Almaz OhenePublished: 14 September 2017
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Parkinson’s activists in Luxembourg City headed to the Grand Ducal Palace for a giant public pillow fight to raise awareness of the condition
Luxembourgers of all ages met at the Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg City last weekend, to take part in a public pillow fight in aid of Parkinson’s awareness. It was a symbol of the fight that many in Luxembourg are waging every day against the condition: people with Parkinson’s, their families, doctors and nurses, researchers and many more.
The event’s aim was to raise awareness of the research activities of the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s Disease (NCER-PD), Luxembourg.
Co-organised by the Rotary Clubs Luxembourg, NCER-PD and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, opening speeches were given by Lydia Mutsch (Luxembourg Ministry of Health), Professor Rudi Balling (director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine) and Romain Becker (president of Rotary Interclub Luxembourg). Together, they officially opened proceedings with a pillow fight of their own.
Constant Infalt, country chair and Luxembourg representative of the district governor, said: “We have been supporting biomedical research in Luxembourg for many years.”
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation, the Rotarians sold pieces of a 100-metre ‘baamkuch’ traditional layer cake to raise money for the NCER-PD. Constant Infalt continued: “With the pillow fight and the sale of our impressive 100-metre baamkuch, we want to generate an especially effective public incentive.”
Throughout the afternoon visitors could also try on a Parkinson’s suit, which simulates the two most representative motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: muscle rigidity and tremors. They were also able to test their dexterity, sense of smell and colour vision, to aid understanding of how the brain controls the senses and movements and why Parkinson’s disease affects these features.
L–R: Mars di Bartolomeo, Lydia Mutsch, Rudi Balling, Romain Becker
Professor Rejko Krüger, head of the NCER-PD and neurologist at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, said: “We are proud to be organising this event in Luxembourg together with the Rotary Club and LCSB and sincerely would like to thank all our partners without whom this event would not have been possible. From the proceeds, we will be funding a project to research the genetic causes of Parkinson’s.”
The disease can be triggered by any number of different genetic or external factors, and one of the problems in Parkinson’s treatment so far is the lack of patient-specific therapies.
“Treatment of this disease has improved considerably in recent years, but there is still a lot to do,” said Professor Krüger. “Only once we have understood the diversity of causes, will we be able to work on developing therapies that take into account the patient’s personal situation. The project that will be funded by the proceeds from this event is another important component in this.”
NCER-PD is a joint initiative of four partners in Luxembourg: Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg, Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg and Luxembourg Institute of Health, which are uniting their efforts and expertise to develop new methods for the early diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Luxembourg Parkinson’s study NCER-PD has been funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund since 2015.
The LCSB is a biomedical research centre of the University of Luxembourg. It is accelerating biomedical research by closing the link between systems biology and medical research. Collaboration between biologists, medical doctors, computer scientists, physicists, engineers and mathematicians is offering new insights into complex systems like biological cells, organs, and organisms.
A new body of research has highlighted a potential link between gut health and Parkinson’s, with several studies presented at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego, US. One study focused on alpha-synuclein – a protein that can cause brain cells to die and contribute to the condition’s onset. As part of the study, the researchers created a mouse model of Parkinson’s by treating the mice with rotenone (an ingredient used in pesticides). This was found to increase clumps of alpha-synuclein in the gut, suggesting the protein may originate in the digestive system before moving to the brain. Commenting on the research presented at the event in a press release, assistant professor of neurosurgery Sonia Villapol said: “When it comes to neurological disorders, we cannot target only the brain. Everything that happens in the gut has an impact on the brain.”
Is dry eye disease common in people with Parkinson’s?
Dry eye disease can involve symptoms such as a lower blinking rate and typically occurs when the eyes are not effectively moistened by tears – leading to discomfort and possible vision loss. Now, a recent study from Japan has investigated the previously underexplored relationship between dry eye disease and Parkinson’s. As part of their research, the team analysed 13 studies published between 2004 and 2022, which involved more than 1,500 people with Parkinson’s. Five of the reports highlighted the prevalence of dry eye disease in people with the condition – with 61% experiencing symptoms. “Our findings emphasize the need for clinicians to be vigilant of the presence of dry eye disease when managing [people with Parkinson’s],” the researchers wrote. However, they noted that more research is needed – especially “future large-scale studies” – to help understand the relationship between dry eye disease and the condition.
Highlighting dental care needs among people with Parkinson’s disease
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have published a new study looking into dental care among people with Parkinson’s. Using a national register to obtain data relating to dental care between 2015 and 2019, the team identified 6,874 people with Parkinson’s, whose data was then compared to a control group of 34,285 people without the condition. A key takeaway from the five-year study was that a larger portion of people with Parkinson’s were not regular users of the dental care system – 21%, compared to 16.9% in the control group. The findings published in the journal ‘Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology’ also revealed that people with Parkinson’s utilised more dental-related treatment services than those in the control group – such as fillings and extractions. The researchers concluded: “This knowledge can be used by clinicians and decision-makers to ensure the optimal dental care for persons with Parkinson’s.”