The Michael J. Foxx Foundation (MJFF) has recently award $8.8 million of grants to various medical professionals for their research on Parkinson’s disease. The aim is to develop more treatments, find better methods of diagnosis, and increase knowledge on the disease. There are 49 recipients, all of whom intend to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s.
About Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is characterized by its effect on movement through five different stages. As the disease progresses, severity increases. Stage one is characterized by subtle tremors on one side of the body. In stage two symptoms are more noticeable, with tremors and rigidity on both sides of the body. Stage three brings loss of balance and slowed movement. Stage four makes it impossible for one to live independently. Stage five is the most severe, as patients cannot stand or walk. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of this stage.
Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the death of motor neurons, some of which produce dopamine. Dopamine is important in the transmittance of messages to the muscles from the brain, so the loss of dopamine results in the loss of motor functions. Abnormal brain activity occurs when these neurons are lost. Doctors do not know why these motor neurons die, but they do suspect a few factors that play a role, such as genetics, environmental factors like toxins, and Lewy bodies.
About the Grants
49 recipients were awarded $8.8 million of grants, all of whom are conducting research to improve the treatment, diagnostic process, and knowledge of Parkinson’s disease. $1 million of the grants were awarded to four medical professionals who are investigating the development and progression of the disease. Their major goal is to develop better treatments. One of these four is Lalitha Madhavan, who is working on a method to diagnose Parkinson’s early in its development.
$2.8 million will go towards 29 of the recipients, who will be looking into the diagnostic process, the progression of the disease, and the efficacy of various treatments. One project, conducted by Stella Sarraf, aims to improve the diagnostic process by detecting clumps of alpha-synuclein in the retina.
A large portion of the grant, $4 million, went towards five projects that intend to improve patient quality of life and discover treatments. One of the most exciting projects is a gene therapy, which could be a potential cure.
A clinical trial is also being funded, which will evaluate allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells’ ability to lower inflammation in the brain. 45 patients will participate at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, and it will open in October.
The remaining money will go to 11 projects that aim to build infrastructure within foundations that would allow for them to conduct better research. You can read more about these, and the other funded projects, here.
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