You Need to Hear This Parkinson’s News

As a self-described science nerd, I always feel a thrill when I read about a new drug reaching Phase 3 of a clinical trial. At that point, chances are very good that the drug will be FDA approved and an available treatment option for patients. This is especially true for the rare disease community, where the path to diagnosis often takes seven years or more; and where treatments are few and far between. So, I was elated to read that the Michael J. Fox Foundation made a grant of five million dollars to study a compound that may prevent, or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Of course, reaching Phase 3 doesn’t automatically guarantee the drug’s approval, and I know of several disappointments along the way, but it is cause to hope.

Fox, as you may remember, played the lovable Alex P. Keaton on the ’80s show Family Ties. Fox, who received a number of Emmy awards for his acting, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was only 29 years old and has made it his life’s mission to find a cure for this debilitating disease. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $450 millions for Parkinson’s research.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that occurs when the brain stops making the neurotransmitter dopamine.

It develops very slowly, so by the time physical symptoms become apparent, the person has usually had Parkinson’s for a long time. Lack of dopamine results in the person having less and less control over their muscle movement and their emotions.

Curiously, there was a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease among survivors of the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic, of which my grandfather was one. While he didn’t develop Parkinson’s, three of his friends did. My grandfather’s theory was it had less to do with the Spanish flu, and more to do with the medicines used to treat the sick. My grandfather did not receive treatment, while his three friends did. This is science-nerd conjecture, and there is no solid evidence to back it up, but to me, it seems plausible. Plausible, but ultimately, unprovable.

So, would you like to be a part of history? Your participation in a clinical trial could become your legacy. To learn more about which clinical trials are recruiting for Parkinson’s disease, click here.


Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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