Luxembourgers ruffle some feathers for Parkinson’s awareness
Author: Almaz OhenePublished: 14 September 2017
Prep: Cook: Serves:
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.
The future generation of advanced therapies for Parkinson’s
Dr Kieran Breen explores the potential of stem cell & gene therapies
2 days ago
Heart problems linked to dementia risk in Parkinson’s disease, say researchers
Researchers at the University of Turin, Italy, have identified that Parkinson’s-related cardiovascular problems may increase a patient’s risk of developing dementia within five years. According to the study, it is estimated that more than half of people with Parkinson’s experience an impairment of the autonomic nervous system – which helps to regulate bodily functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, respiration and heart rate. The researchers investigated the effects of this impairment on key functional Parkinson’s outcomes – including dementia, falls and postural instability – by observing 65 patients at the university’s movement disorders centre and following up after five years. Evaluations throughout the study assessed patients’ cognitive function, automatic symptoms and other motor and non-motor features. In the findings, which were published in the ‘Journal of Neurology’, the researchers noted that worse cardiovascular assessment scores were “associated with a sevenfold higher risk of developing dementia”.
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.”