April is Parkinson’s awareness month and Michael J. Fox spoke to New York media outlets about his personal commitment to find a cure. You can watch the recent ABC News segment and read the Perez Hilton blog posting.
To learn more about Michael and Parkinson’s, watch the CNN Special: Michael J. Fox Talks to Sanjay Gupta, from earlier this year:
A new approach to delivering gene therapy to the brain to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, was revealed in research findings published in the February 4 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
UCSF neuroscientist Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz has developed a promising way to get nerve cells to help disperse gene therapy to targeted brain cells. He uses a technique called convection-enhanced delivery. The fluid containing the gene therapy is injected under pressure, delivered in pulses. Says Bankiewicz:
For the first time, specific regions of the cortex can be supplied with therapeutic agents by targeting defined regions of the thalamus…Translational experiments now are in progress to evaluate the potential of this unique gene delivery technology for the treatment of cortical dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease…
Bankiewicz’s research at UCSF has a strong focus on the development of practical approaches to gene and cell replacement therapies; he synthesizes several individual technologies into powerful new approaches to the treatment of such serious disease as brain cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.
Source: Science Cafe
Good news on the NIH front . This investment could help support more research on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, FTD and other diseases:
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment that would add $6.5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health to an economic stimulus bill, raising the total proposed cost of the bill to more than $900 billion.
The amendment, proposed by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would bring total funding for the National Institutes of Health in the Senate stimulus bill to $10 billion over two years.
“The National Institutes of Health have been starved recently,” Specter said in a statement. “This increase in funding will enable the National Institutes of Health to continue to produce remarkable achievements in scientific advances.”
Source: Patrick Yoest, Dow Jones Newswires
Barack Obama has flip-flopped on yet another campaign promise, according to Politico. The President-Elect campaigned against the Bush executive order barring federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells and said he would reverse it once elected. Now he has backed away from that pledge and is pulling a CYA — shifting the burden to Congress to change the policy.
In August 2001,George Bush stopped the NIH from funding embryonic stem cell research but allowed research to continue on several dozen cell lines already in existence .
Politico quotes a recent CNN interview where Obama said the following:
Well, if we can do something legislative then I usually prefer a legislative process because those are the people’s representatives. And I think that on embryonic stem cell research, the fact that you have a bipartisan support around that issue, the fact that you have Republicans like Orrin Hatch who are fierce opponents of abortion and yet recognize that there is a moral and ethical mechanism to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can actually find potentially some hope out there, you know, I think that sends a powerful message…So we’re still examining what things we’ll do through executive order…But I like the idea of the American people’s representatives expressing their views on an issue like this.
I’m very disappointed but not surprised by Obama’s latest remarks. The pace of discovery of future cures for the most devastating diseases relies on policy change and investment in research. Hopefully Obama will reconsider and restore the faith in all of us.
Sources: AP (photo), Politico, CNN, HotAir
Researchers have found that a technique used to visualize amyloid fibers in the laboratory might have the potential to destroy them in the clinic. The technique involves zapping the fluorescently-tagged fibers with a laser, which can inhibit their growth and degrade them.
This study, appearing in the Jan. 9, 2009 issue of JBC, may offer a non-drug alternative to treat amyloid-based disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases.
Source: Press Release
Researchers are further discovering how Parkinson’s kills brain cells. Neurologists have known for decades that Lewy bodies – clumps of aggregated proteins inside cells -appear in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The presence of these Lewy bodies points to problems in protein recycling and waste disposal which raises the question: how does disrupting those processes kill brain cells? Researchers at Emory University have a possible answer: by breaking a survival circuit called MEF2D.
In a study published yesterday in Science, the Emory researchers identified what could be an important pathway for controlling cell loss and survival in Parkinson’s disease. What this means is that further research could identify drugs that could regulate MEF2D, allowing brain cells to survive toxic stresses that impair protein recycling.
Sources: Longevity Meme, Emory University