News / Health

New Research Focuses on Genetic Clues to Parkinson's Disease

Stiffness of limbs is one of the clinical diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease
Stiffness of limbs is one of the clinical diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease

Multimedia

Audio
Vidushi Sinha

New medical research into a possible cure for Parkinson's disease is focusing on finding biomarkers in patients so that doctors can start treatment early before tremors and other symptoms start. Actor Michael J. Fox's recent commitment of $40 million toward finding a cure for Parkinson's is helping to fund the new research.

The current clinical diagnosis of Parkinson’s is based on visible tremors and stiffness of limbs. But researchers say a more comprehensive diagnosis is needed. Dr. Fernando Pagan at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington is the director of the National Parkinson Foundation Center.

"There are not only motor symptoms, which has been traditionally the mainstay since 1817, but now we are looking at the non-motor features and understanding when they come into play," Dr. Pagan said.

Dr. Pagan and other researchers say environmental and genetic factors could provide clues for diagnosis, treatments and a cure.

They are looking specifically at a biomarker - or a gene - found in many people with Parkinson’s.

"One of the most important genes that we have found out is LRKK2 gene,” he added. “So if we can understand this particular one, we may be able to find a treatment, or a specific cure, for LRKK2."

Dr. Pagan says that up to 40 percent of Parkinson's patients from northern Africa, and some Arab countries, have this gene, and between 11 to 14 percent of patients of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Dr. Pagan says the LRKK2 gene may help doctors make an early diagnosis of the disease, but he and other experts stress it is not a cure-all, because Parkinson's has many variations.

Right now, the only thing doctors can do is treat the progressively worsening symptoms.

Dr. Pagan has been involved in a series of trials on methods of intervention.

"All three trials showed that a treatment was better than no treatment and the progression of the disease was slower in those who were early treated virus those who received delayed treatments,” said Dr. Pagan. “We are clearly learning now that treating Parkinson’s from the time we make diagnosis does modify the disease."

Medical researchers say Parkinson's Disease is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer's with some 10 million people suffering from the disease around the world.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs