April 21, 2019 – Parkinson’s Weekly Update

Major Tom to Ground Control … this week’s report comes from  somewhere over the North Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 36,000 feet, where we are currently testing air turbulence therapy for Parkinson’s Disease … so apologies in advance for any and all typos.

In an otherwise slow holiday week, University of Cambridge researchers are suggesting that an existing high blood pressure medication, felodipine, might be repurposed to treat Parkinson’s Disease. This study reminds me of another high blood pressure medication, isradipine, also a calcium channel blocker, which saw positive results in an animal model study 12 years ago. Since then, research has progressed considerably. Researchers have recently completed a 3 year phase 3 study of isradipine, and these latest results are expected to be published within the next 2-3 weeks. This study might bring good news to those with early stage PD: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/isradipine-phase-3-study-results-expected-soon/

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is an amazing quality of life improvement for people with tremor dominant Parkinson’s. This video clip from Irish television, where someone who has had DBS surgery switches the stimulator off and then back on, is a great example of how significant this treatment can be:
More on DBS from the Davis Phinney Foundation:

Jimmy Choi was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s Disease 16 years ago at the age of 27. Now 43, he has embraced intense exercise and for the past couple years has shown off his ninja skills competing on the TV show “American Ninja Warrior”: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20190416/parkinsons-diagnosis-now-drives-american-ninja-warrior–

Parkinson’s Awareness Month trivia: Parkinson’s Disease is named after Dr. James Parkinson, the first doctor of western medicine to study the condition, having written an essay in 1817: https://parkinsonslife.eu/james-parkinson-the-man-behind-the-shaking-palsy/

Local news coverage of Parkinson’s Disease programs:

Bangor, Maine – Husson University students run a boxing program for people with Parkinson’s: https://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Husson-students-throw-punch-in-fight-against-Parkinsons-disease-508585501.html

West Lafayette, Indiana (Rock Steady Boxing) – https://www.wlfi.com/content/news/Packing-a-punch-against-Parkinsons-Disease-508721981.html

Ottumwa, Iowa (Rock Steady Boxing) – https://www.kyoutv.com/home/2019/04/17/ymca-teaches-boxing-class-to-fight-parkinsons-disease/

Tucson, Arizona (Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery/PWR) – https://www.kgun9.com/news/local-news/one-of-a-kind-gym-in-tucson-is-helping-people-with-parkinsons-improve-daily-life

Seattle, Washington (Dance for Parkinson’s) – https://q13fox.com/2019/04/17/healthy-living-dance-class-helps-people-living-with-parkinsons-disease/

In the above report they talk to Nan Little, author of a fantastic PD journey book, “If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Why Can’t I Brush My Teeth?: Courage, Tenacity & Love Meet Parkinson’s Disease”: https://www.amazon.com/Climb-Kilimanjaro-Cant-Brush-Teeth-ebook/dp/B01DAVSAWK/

Rutgers University offers a dance program for Parkinson’s: http://btn.com/2019/04/19/a-rutgers-program-gets-parkinsons-patients-to-boogie-down-btn-livebig/

The Los Angeles Times published a feature article on The Parkinson Voice Project and their Loud Crowd therapy: https://www.latimes.com/local/orangecounty/tn-wknd-et-parkinsons-speech-loud-crowd-los-alamitos-20190418-story.html

Upcoming Events:

The World Parkinson Congress is held every 3 years, bringing together researchers, health professionals and people with Parkinson’s Disease. This year it will be held in Kyoto Japan from June 4-7. If you’re going to the conference, and would like to meet up, drop me an email, brett@parkinson.fit. Conference info: https://wpc2019.org/

Bastyr University is hosting its second annual PD Summer School program, August 18-23, near Seattle Washington. It is pricey, but I’m curious what insights they have to offer: https://bastyrpdschool.org

Previous Week – April 13, 2019

March 31, 2019 – Parkinson’s Weekly Update

This is a recap of the most interesting news and discussions related to Parkinson’s Disease this past week.

Blame it on the Parkinson'sWe start by looking ahead to Parkinson’s Disease Awareness which starts on Monday by revisiting the funniest (and most relatable) Parkinson’s Disease awareness video of all time. We then realize that we may be personally too aware of PD, so we take a look at awareness months for other diseases and health issues. Next up we try to avoid the big gun debate while reporting on an intriguing case study of “gun therapy” for Parkinson’s; a hip-hop dance demonstration inspires one of the dancers to investigate repurposing a wearable designed for entertainment to help improve gait in PD patients; Fox Foundation commits $1 million to help a company build a PET tracer that can better map brain inflammation for future clinical trials; dolphins are developing Alzheimer’s in Florida; milk may increase Parkinson’s risk; dance therapy in Memphis; and rethinking music therapy.

    1. Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month starts Monday, April 1. As April 1 is traditionally a day of laughs, I propose kicking off your PD awareness experience with the best and funniest (and most relatable) Parkinson’s Disease awareness video of all time, Mitch Faile’s “Blame it on the Parkinson’s”: https://parkinson.fit/blame-it-on-the-parkinsons/
    2. Who decides which disease or cause can lay claim to a month as its’ month of awareness? How did Parkinson’s Disease get April? It’s not that I don’t believe that PD deserves an awareness month, or that April doesn’t work for me. My issue is that I feel like a hypocrite. I am so aware of Parkinson’s Disease, that I have been completely unaware of awareness months for any other diseases or causes in the past year. Therefore, I think there is no better way for those of us with PD to start Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month than to raise our awareness of other diseases and health concerns. Take this opportunity to learn about challenges that others are facing; learn about prevention and health screening for other health ailments; and consider also supporting organizations that devote themselves to worthwhile causes…we’ve collected a list of other awareness months here: https://parkinson.fit/parkinsons-awareness-month-is-a-time-to-look-outward-not-inward/
    3. Please put aside any preconceived thoughts on guns…whether you are pro “gun rights” or pro “gun control”, David Smith’s Parkinson’s Disease “gun therapy” is one of the most intriguing and inspirational PD stories of recent weeks. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s 8 years ago, David found nothing that would help with his tremors. He had always enjoyed shooting at the gun range, and would shoot at least every other week, sometimes more frequently. He realized that the activity was calming for his tremors, so he decided to do it more frequently. Now, he is in the big leagues…a professional shooter who has been chosen to be on the US team at the IPSC Rifle World Championship in Sweden this fall: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/competitive-shooter-uses-gun-therapy-to-help-manage-parkinsons/
    4. Two college professors in Buffalo (New York) collaborated to create a wearable device called Electroskip that creates music in response to dance and movement. The anticipated applications for the device were in arts and entertainment. To help demonstrate the device for a TEDx Talk, they enlisted the help of a hip-hop dance crew from their university. One of the dancers was in the process of completing a PhD in Physical Therapy, and recognized that the device may be useful for gait training improvements in Parkinson’s Disease. The company is now pivoting Electroskip toward more of a medical direction, and are currently seeking FDA approval as a medical device that helps people with walking disabilities. https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/electroskip-device-straps-to-shoe-and-uses-auditory-cues-to-improve-gait/
    5. Inflazome received a grant of more than $1 million from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to fund the development of an NLRP3-specific Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracer that allows non-invasive imaging of inflammasome-driven brain inflammation. Inflazome focuses on developing ways of blocking inflammasome signaling to eliminate unwanted inflammation. The NLPR3 inflammasome is believed to drive chronic inflammation linked to many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease. The PET tracer is designed to determine what dosages are needed for clinical trials. More details:  https://www.biospace.com/article/inflazome-funding-from-the-michael-j-fox-foundation-underlines-foundation-involvement-in-research/
    6. A long-term research study in Sweden concluded that people who drink 40ml (1.3oz) or more of milk per day were about 30% more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease. By contrast, yogurt or soured milk was not found to cause any increased or decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s News Today provides more detail: https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2019/03/27/milk-linked-increased-risk-parkinsons-disease/
    7. The environmental toxin beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has long been suspected of playing a role in some cases of neurological disorders. Hints about the potential health threat of BMAA date back to the aftermath of World War II in the remote Pacific island of Guam. U.S. Army physicians encountered an outbreak of a strange syndrome that the native people called lytico-bodig—the term lytico signifying paralysis and bodig dementia. Some victims had ALS-like symptoms, others exhibited the rigid posture of Parkinson’s disease, and still others displayed the mental fogginess typical of Alzheimer’s. A 2011 article in Discover Magazine asked “Are Toxins in Seafood Causing ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s?” and pointed to concerns that BMAA was being produced by blue-green algae.
      Now, in an alarming new study that has implications for people living along the Florida coast, scientists have discovered that dolphins there appear to be suffering from a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease caused by BMAA toxins from common algae. University of Miami researchers examined the brains of 14 dolphins, some of which had beached themselves. Half of the marine mammals were found stranded in areas with frequent harmful algal blooms: the Banana River, Indian River Lagoon, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Thirteen of the dolphins’ brains had excessive levels of BMAA.  The University of Miami research report was published in PLOS One. More details at https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/algae-toxin-dolphin-alzheimers/
    8. Are you curious about dance programs for Parkinson’s Disease? WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis pays a visit to the Dance for PD class at Ballet Memphis: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonfit/posts/2325431524405986https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonfit/posts/2325431524405986
    9. Existing music therapy for Parkinson’s Disease helps people, but to me, it seems more geared to my grandfather’s generation. Wired Magazine has an interesting video titled “How Does Music Affect Your Brain? Every Imaginable Way” https://www.wired.com/story/tech-effects-how-does-music-affect-your-brain/.
      Meanwhile, Tomas Matthews, a PhD candidate at Concordia University in Montreal, is researching how brain regions involved in the different aspects of musical groove interact: http://theconversation.com/groovy-findings-researching-how-and-why-music-moves-you-112959.
      We don’t want to overthink it, because we know a good tune when we hear it. But, we do think it’s time to rethink music therapy, and give it a rock and roll transfusion: https://parkinson.fit/forums/topic/rethinking-music-therapy-for-parkinsons-disease/

Previous Week – March 23, 2019