Parkinson’s in the news: August

Global update

Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 28 August 2019

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From the first ever US agenda prioritising the needs of women with Parkinson’s to this year’s prestigious Tom Isaacs Award winner, we look at Parkinson’s news stories that made headlines around the world in August 2019

‘Women and PD’ project urges changes in research and care

Parkinson’s Foundation is leading the first ever US research agenda addressing the needs of women with Parkinson’s. The organisation’s newly released report identifies priority areas including greater representation of women in Parkinson’s research, more accessible care and patient self-management.

Megan Feeney, senior manager for community engagement at Parkinson’s Foundation, said: “We really want to make sure that women are front and centre in care, and that means working with societal structures to make sure women are prioritising care.”

Michael J Fox Foundation funds the largest disease-focused data set ever created

The ‘PPMI RNA-Sequencing Project’ is a new study, funded by The Michael J Fox Foundation, (MJFF) which boasts the largest data set ever – the equivalent to over 47 billion typed out pages with single spacing. Analysing the data could help Parkinson’s researchers better understand how to measure and treat people with the condition.

Todd Sherer, CEO of MJFF, said: “PPMI has built the most robust Parkinson’s data set to date, collecting clinical, imaging and biological information from volunteers over at least five years to better understand disease onset and progression.

“The PPMI RNA-Sequencing Project significantly increases the study’s value and moves us closer to its goals to better define, measure and treat Parkinson’s disease.”

Edinburgh University’s Dr Tilo Kunath wins prestigious award for Parkinson’s research

The esteemed Tom Isaacs Award 2019 has been presented to Dr Tilo Kunath, a leading stem cell researcher from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The award – created in memory of Tom Isaacs, the co-founder and president of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust – acknowledges outstanding work in Parkinson’s research.

Dr Kunath has won praise for his work with Joy Milne, a Scottish woman who has the ability to smell Parkinson’s. Together with a team of researchers, they identified substances in the skin that could help clinicians with early diagnosis of the condition.

Helen Matthews, deputy CEO of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, said: “Tilo embodies the spirit of the award. He inspires Parkinson’s community in Scotland and his proactive approach of involving people living with Parkinson’s with research and listening to the community to inform research is exemplary.”

Mother of Harry Styles invites others to join Parkinson’s fight

Parkinson’s campaigner Anne Twist, who is the mother of former One Direction star Harry Styles, is encouraging others to join her for the Chester Walk for Parkinson’s event. The walk is one of 45 events across the country and is expected to raise over UK £600,000 for Parkinson’s UK.

Anne, whose 84-year-old father lives with Parkinson’s, said: “Parkinson’s has become a bigger and bigger part of my family’s life. We’re very lucky because dad has kept his amazing sense of humour but there still isn’t a cure and the main medication is over 50-years-old.

“That’s why I support Parkinson’s UK and want to be a part of any opportunity to help support people affected by the condition and, ultimately, find a cure.”

Virtual reality game may help people with Parkinson’s to walk

Engineering students at the University of Southern California, US, are developing a virtual reality game to improve walking and mobility skills in people with Parkinson’s. Named ‘Overcome’, players are required to use both a virtual reality headset and a treadmill.

Players can train their muscles as they roam through a virtual city environment taking on obstacles such as trees, roads and buildings.

Adim Abass, a student at the university, said: “Our solution is not a substitute for being outdoors, but it eases the initial phase of rehabilitation.”

The team of developers hope that patients will have access to the game in medical facilities in the near future.

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Parkinson’s in the news: July

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