Parkinson's in the Media

Imaging Shows Progressive Damage by Parkinson’s
The New York Times
For the first time, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report, brain imaging has been able to show in living patients the progressive damage Parkinson’s disease causes to two small structures deep in the brain.  The new technique confirms some ideas about the overall progress of the disease in the brain.  But the effects of Parkinson’s vary in patients, the researchers said, and in the future, the refinement in imaging may help doctors monitor how the disease is affecting different people and adjust treatment accordingly.  More…

Depression is Biggest Hurdle for Parkinson's Patients
USA Today
Depression takes a bigger toll on Parkinson's patients than the physical problems linked to the neurological disease and often goes undiagnosed, according to early findings out Wednesday from an international study.  "Nearly everyone thinks of the disease as a mobility disorder but the No. 1 problem turns out to be depression,'' says Joyce Oberdorf, president of the National Parkinson's Foundation.  The advocacy group's long-term study is the largest ever undertaken on the degenerative disease, she says.  It affects about 1 million people in the USA and 5 million worldwide, and is characterized by tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement and speech difficulties.  More…

Speech Test May Help Diagnose Parkinson's
USA Today
Identifying Parkinson's disease one day might be as easy as a speech test -- a non-invasive, inexpensive tool that in early experiments has shown surprisingly accurate results, a Michigan State University researcher said Wednesday.  The key:  Tiny changes in speech that occur early in Parkinson's development and can be detected by professional recording equipment and computer algorithms -- perhaps even before loved ones notice slurred or slow speech or other symptoms, said Rahul Shrivastav, professor and chairman of Michigan State University's Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders.  More…

As Drug Industry’s Influence Over Research Grows, So Does the Potential for Bias
The Washington Post
The billions that the drug companies invest in such experiments help fund the world’s quest for cures. But their aim is not just public health.  That money is also part of a high-risk quest for profits, and over the past decade corporate interference has repeatedly muddled the nation’s drug science, sometimes with potentially lethal consequences.  More…

Head Injury, Herbicide, Linked to Parkinson's Disease in Survey
ABC News
Adults who reported ever having had a head injury and who were exposed to the herbicide paraquat had nearly a three-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a survey published Monday in the journal Neurology.  Researchers at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 35 and older who lived in central California.  Some 357 of the participants were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a movement disorder characterized by tremors and loss of coordination.  More…

Misfolded Protein Transmits Parkinson’s from Cell to Cell
Nature
The catastrophic damage wreaked by a rogue protein involved in Parkinsons' disease has been tracked by researchers, in work that might help to reinvigorate an old treatment strategy to slow the condition.  A team led by Virginia Lee, a neurobiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, injected a misfolded synthetic version of the protein a-synuclein into the brains of normal mice and saw the key characteristics of Parkinson’s disease develop and progressively worsen.  The study, published today in Science, suggests that the disease is spread from one nerve cell to another by the maformed protein, rather than arising spontaneously in the cells.  More…

What Medicare Will Cover Even if You’re Not Likely to Get Better

The New York Times
[NOTE:  PAN was one of the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit that brought about this settlement.]
Should the federal government cover the costs of many kinds of treatments for patients who aren’t going to get any better?  It didn’t, for many years.  But after the settlement of a landmark class-action lawsuit this week, Medicare will soon begin paying more often for physical, occupational and other therapies for large numbers of people with certain disabilities and chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.  The two questions patient advocates were left with this week were just how many people may benefit from the clarification of the regulations and how quickly.  More…

Research!America Hits the Hill to Defend Health Research
National Journal
Research!America, a nonprofit group that advocates for funding for biomedical research, kicked off a number of visits to Hill offices Tuesday and Wednesday as part of an advocacy week aimed at keeping funding at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere out of the across-the-board cuts scheduled to hit later this year.  Scientists from the Society for Neuroscience and the Georgetown University Medical Center, among others, joined activists from groups like the Parkinson's Action Network to explain to health staffers why biomedical research -- a historically nonpartisan issue area with widespread public support -- shouldn't be cut. They met with staffers from the offices of Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., among others.  More…