Day 4: Did You Know?

Flying foxes… Heard of them? They are a species of bats that can grow to a whopping six feet across. Ugh! How'd you like those hanging around the attic? Don't worry – unless you live in Guam and have been fixing them for supper, which some have and in turn? Well, becase the 'foxes' eat cycad seeds and becasue those cycad seeds contain a neurotoxing, many of those fox eating Guam feasters have developed PD.

Did you know that in 1875, there was a French neurologist by the name of Henri Huchard? Did you know Henri had a patient that had all of the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease? Did you know that patient was a mere three years old? Oui oui – yes- it's true.

And did you know that Nicolas Culpepper, an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer claimed that worms were useful in the treatment of PD symptoms? Anyone want to try a little Alfredo sauce with their worms?

And – speaking of physicians and such, in medieval Damascus in the 9th century there was a Syriac Christian physician named Yahya Ibn Sarafyun, who collect and put together in an abridged form the opinions of the Greek and Arabic physicians concerning diseases and their treatment. One of these opinions was his, which was that he believed that a formulation that he himself had devised would treat PD. The formulation? Frankincense, myrrh and – you guessed it – gold frogs!

And then there's James Parkinson, the man who Parkinson's disease is named after – but he never knew it.

PD is labeled an 'old' person's disease – a disease whose chances of getting hold of you as you age are greater – but did you know that those who live longest (namely those in the 110+ yrs.) almost wholly escape this monster? Crazy!

The 'Evil Eye' is known as a 'sickness' transmitted by a child of Bombay's Parsi people, who is jealous, envious, or covetous. It is 'treated' by burning poisonous Aspand seeds. Which is worse? A child's jealousy or the ritual to treat said condition, which in turn can produce PD in those breathing in the toxin of tyranny?


Day 1: How Many?

  • As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.

  • Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.

  • An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease.

  • Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50.

  • and just because it happens to be April 1st, we're not fooling around… Although it typically develops after the age of 65, about 15% of people with the condition develop “young-onset” Parkinson's disease before reaching age 50.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month Begins Tomorrow!!!

Here's a great way to advertise PAM

(Parkinson's [Disease] Awareness Month):

Order your shirt now!

(click on link above to be taken to PDF's website page)

The above logo was designed by Ruth Lotzer of Bloomington, MN in the annual Parkinson's Disease Foundation's T-Shirt design contest to obring awareness to PD during the PD Awareness month of April.

PDF was proud to announce that Ruth's will be featured on its 2014 Parkinson's Awareness Month t-shirt. Ms. Lotzer, a retired kindergarten teacher, lives with young onset Parkinson’s disease. In addition to volunteering as a PDF Research Advocate, she uses her creativity to make crafts and pins for Parkinson’s awareness.

“I want people to know that getting involved in the fight against Parkinson’s doesn't have to be complicated. You don't have to be famous or be a big shot. Anyone can do it! Find what you like to do best and do it for PD,” says Ruth.


Nicotine Patches to Stop… Parkinson’s Disease? by MJF Foundation, FoxFeed Blog

Posted by Nate Herpich, January 18, 2013

Nicotine Patches to Stop… Parkinson’s Disease?

Across the board, physicians agree: There’s no doubt that smoking is bad for you. But is it possible that there’s just something about a cigarette habit that might lower a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD)? Epidemiological data (in which patterns in comparative populations are analyzed) has long supported the ideathat those who have spent years as smokers don’t get PD as often as non-smokers.

Of course, smoking a pack a day to maybe prevent the onset of PD hardly makes sense — the adverse effects of puffing on nicotine cigarettes certainly outweigh any potential benefits. Still, the data on smoking and PD is too intriguing to ignore: looking collectively across many studies, it’s estimated that current smokers are 60 percent less likely to get PD than those who have never smoked. Which begs the question: Could there be a drug for PD hidden somewhere within the rolling papers? Researchers believe that maybe there is, and the potential therapeutic agent that they’re intrigued by is nicotine.

This month, an exciting development toward learning more about nicotine and PD: A clinical trial sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is launching in the United States to explore the potential therapeutic benefits of those very same nicotine patches that people take to try and quit smoking.

NIC-PD will enroll 160 PD patients in Germany and the U.S., providing some volunteers with nicotine patches and others with placebo patches, in order to determine if the real ones might have the potential to slow the progression of PD. Eighty of these patients will be enrolled at 11 centers in the United States, saysCornelia Kamp, the project manager of the American arm of the study.

“The drug used in the trial is the same exact drug from Novartis that people have used to quit smoking for many years,” explains Kamp, which is good news in terms of clearing hurdles associated with the therapy’s safety. She is hopeful that her team could have high level results from NIC-PD by spring of 2015. A best case scenario: The results both show that disease progression is slowed, and are convincing enough to encourage a larger follow-up study which could prove to be more definitive.

Of course, there are hurdles. Most imminently, explains the U.S. study Principal Investigator James Boyd, MD, of the University of Vermont, nicotine gets a bad rap with the public because of its relationship with tobacco and addiction. In smoking, it’s the bevy of chemicals in a cigarette and the process of smoking that can cause cancers, not the nicotine itself. Still, helping prospective trial participants, and PD drug developers alike, to understand its benefits could prove to be a challenge, due to nicotine’s reputation.

The good news for people with Parkinson’s, says Boyd, is that pre-clinical studies have shown that nicotine could protect dopamine-producing neurons in the brain from dying. But we’ve yet to see this effect in people. NIC-PD will be the first clinical study to begin to get to the bottom of this disease-modifying potential.

And there’s still much to learn about possible biological connections between nicotine and PD. To date, most human-based data around nicotine and Parkinson’s has been purely epidemiological, says Maurizio Facheris, MD, MSc. This means that there might be other ways to describe the relationship between nicotine and PD that aren’t “brain chemically-based.”

Here’s one such example of how epidemiological data can return scientific twists and turns: A past studyfrom Matthew Menza, MD, found that people with PD tend to be less likely on the whole to be “novelty-seekers,” possibly because they have less dopamine in the brain (dopamine might inspire people to be more likely to seek out emotional stimuli). These individuals were also more likely to see smoking as a bad idea. On the other hand, the study found, “novelty-seekers” were more likely to take risks such as smoking, and they were also less likely to develop Parkinson’s. In short: Maybe those who are in the early stages of PD are just less likely to smoke because of how their brains are wired.

The good news is, NIC-PD is designed to begin to clear up some of these questions, and determine if it’s the addition of nicotine in the body that could really be making the difference. In addition, MJFF is funding additional pre-clinical work to learn more about the biological potential of nicotine in the brain.

And there was more intriguing news from last January, when research published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that a nicotine patch may improve the memory loss common in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that is often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease.

The next few years could be telling as to whether nicotine might help to slow or prevent PD. Stay tuned for updates.

And, please, in the meantime, says Facheris, remember, it’s never a good idea to light up if you can help it. The potential good in nicotine is always outweighed by the toxins that enter into the body when smoking a cigarette. That’s the stuff that could produce cancers.

New Drug Approved for PD Patients with Orthostatic Hypotension

This recently in from:

Yesterday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Northera — the brand name for droxidopa — to treat orthostatic hypotension in Parkinson’s patients.

Learn more about the FDA’s decision.

This approval after a lengthy review process is a true victory for people with Parkinson’s experiencing this common and debilitating symptom. Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing, which can cause dizziness, falls and injury.

Since taking Northera can raise blood pressure when lying down, users are cautioned to sleep with their head and upper body elevated.



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