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I have Parkinson's diseases and thought it would be nice to have a place where the contents of updated news is found in one place. That is why I began this blog.

I copy news articles pertaining to research, news and information for Parkinson's disease, Dementia, the Brain, Depression and Parkinson's with Dystonia. I also post about Fundraising for Parkinson's disease and events. I try to be up-to-date as possible.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hagerstown man donates his body for football-injury research to 'give life back'

October 22, 2016

Fred Lockard led Boy Scouts, coached youth baseball teams and helped people in numerous other ways.
He's still at it, even though he died on Sept. 13.
Lockard donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board. A former football star who eventually suffered from dementia and Parkinson's disease, he made a donation specifically to the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Brain and Tissue Bank Department of Pediatrics.
Helen Lockard said it took her late husband several months, marked by pain and mental and physical decline, to reach that decision. He hoped it would help others.
"He said, 'Nobody should have to have this in their life. No family should have to have this,'" she recalled.
Medical professionals say donations like Fred Lockhard's are invaluable to medical research and training.
"It's a precious gift to give," said Ronald Wade, director of the state anatomy board. "It's life-saving, and it's life-altering."
"I think it's a noble thing," added Tim Harman, a Hagerstown funeral director who did some of his own professional training at the anatomy board's facilities.
The diagnosis
Helen Lockard said her husband loved football, and there was a time when he excelled at the game. He was named linebacker of the year for Pittsburgh high schools and received a full scholarship to the University of Miami in 1955, she said. In 2008, he was inducted into the Carrick High School alumni sports hall of fame for the Class of 1955.
He served a stint in the Army, followed the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoyed a 36-year career as an "elevator man," in Helen's words, holding membership in the International Union of Elevator Constructors. They retired to North Carolina, where he picked up a second career with Harris Teeter grocery stores.
In 2005, she said, their lives began to change.
Fred underwent successful surgery for a brain tumor, performed by renowned surgeon Dr. Allan Friedman at the Duke University Medical Center.
That's when they first learned about making an anatomical donation, Helen said.
When Fred Lockhard played football, the helmets were made of leather. Helen said Friedman predicted her husband's health and habits would decline and might stem from his playing days. But more research was needed on the issue.
In 2009, Fred was readmitted to the Duke center, Helen said. The diagnosis: dementia, frontal lobar brain disorder and Parkinson's disease with disorders concerning the head, legs and lower body.
In 2010, the Lockards moved back to Maryland. In 2011, they moved to Hagerstown. And in 2012, Fred moved into long-term care.
He also was thinking about donating his body to science.
'Help us educate'
"We probably have one of the best donor programs in the country," Wade said of the anatomy board program. "We also have one of the largest donor programs in the country."
In many other states, Wade said, donations are done through medical schools. But Maryland's board was established in 1949 as part of the state health department in a partnership with University of Maryland's medical school.
More than 1,000 Marylanders make the decision to donate each year, and Wade said that number is increasing by 3 to 4 percent a year.
"We're getting a lot of young people who are considering donation," he said.
In addition to taking donations, the anatomy board also is charged with taking care of unclaimed bodies. They become "donors by circumstance," Wade said.
The cadavers are used in research and in training professionals, from paramedics to physical therapists to physicians — even those involved in military medicine.
One donation "is going to help us educate probably at least four medical professionals," Wade said.
That education is "invaluable," in the words of Dr. Shani Belgrave-Heath of Meritus Surgical Specialists near Hagerstown. She went through the cadaver lab while learning anatomy at Brown Medical School.
These days, she said, a lot of medical training is done through computers, simulation and videos. While those methods are useful, "nothing is as good as learning in the anatomy lab on cadavers."
"I think that was really invaluable in learning about how we are made and what we look like on the inside," she said.
'Never stopped caring'
Fred Lockhard made his official decision to donate on Nov. 16, 2012, putting aside long-established plans to be buried in Pittsburgh.
"Fred wanted his brain and tissue to be used for the medical research of football injury studies related to Parkinson's and dementia and medical education and research," Helen wrote in an item she prepared about her husband. "Fred loved life. Fred wanted in any way possible that his body donation would give life back and help families and their loved ones. ... Fred never stopped caring, even after death."
Fred put a lot of thought into his decision, Helen said.
Because of the importance of their Roman Catholic faith, they sought and received the approval of the church. She said he also wanted to make sure his children — he had two from his marriage to Helen and two from his first marriage — "were OK" with his decision.
'Handsome, happy and at peace'
"Usually families have already made their decision before I'm in the loop," said Tim Harman at Harman Funeral Home in Hagerstown.
In addition to serving some of those families at his funeral home, Harman has a contract to transport bodies and cremains (ashes left after cremation) for the board.
While he might be asked to help with prayer cards or notices in the newspaper, donor families typically make their own arrangements for memorials, Harman added.
"They've already thought about what's going to happen, and they have a clear idea of what they want done," he said.
Helen Lockard said she's considering what might be done for Fred, who was 80 when he died. She has time before the research is finished, the body cremated and the ashes are returned, she said.
As she thumbed through photos of her and her late husband last week, she paused at one taken on July 19. That was the day the Rev. Ernest Cibelli, administrator of St. Mary Catholic Church in Hagerstown, conducted a "last rite" service for her husband.
Fred is shown sitting erect in his wheelchair, gazing into the camera. It's a scene Helen tried to capture in writing.
"Fred was happy, handsome and at peace," she wrote.

Have you wondered?

Are body donations needed?
"Yes. Donors are needed to support programs in medical education and research study."
How do I donate my body?
"By completing an anatomy board donor form. You may write or telephone the board to request this form and any additional information."
Are there any charges to my estate or my family?
"No. All costs are paid by the state, including transportation, embalming and cremation."
May I also donate organs for transplants?
"Yes. If you are registered with an organ bank or the Driver's License Program; keep your card with any other identification you carry."
What happens if I die out of state?
"If a signed donor dies in one of the states surrounding Maryland, the family will have the cost of transporting the body into the state, usually the closest funeral home inside the Maryland border. If a donor dies out of state and the distance to transport is unreasonable, then the closest medical teaching facility should be notified, as well as the Anatomy Board's office."
How may I cancel my donation?
"Your donation may be cancelled at any time by writing to the Anatomy Board."
Is a funeral service held?
"No. The Anatomy Board assumes immediate custody of the body, so a funeral service with the body present is not possible. However, the family may elect to have a memorial service at any time."
What about a notice in the newspaper?
"The family may place an obituary notice, at their own expense."
What happens after the body has been used in a medical program?
"The body is returned to the Anatomy Board and cremated. ... In most cases, cremation will occur within a year to a year and a half, depending on when the body is released from the medical program."
What happens to the ashes?
"Following cremation, the ashes are interred in a dedicated gravesite in Sykesville."
Can the ashes be returned to the family for burial or private disposition?
"Yes. You may designate on your donation form that the ashes are to be returned to the family by listing the name, address and telephone number of the person to receive them. The ashes will be returned in an urn suitable for burial or entombment."
— State Anatomy Board


22nd October 2016 

CVT-301 is the name of an inhaled version of L-dopa presently being developed for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. CVT-301 uses the ARCUS inhalation technology, which delivers a reliable and consistent drug dose with a compact, breath actuated inhaler. It uses a dry powder and inhaler combination that is unique in its ability to deliver a large, precise dose independent of inspiratory flow rate from a simple, easy-to-use device suitable for convenient self-administration. 

Among people with Parkinson's Disease inhaling CVT-301 as a single 50mg dose during an "off" period, 77% of them showed an increase in plasma L-dopa within 10 minutes. Only 27% of those people with Parkinson's Disease taking oral carbidopa/levodopa reached the same levels. The improvements in motor function were seen as quickly as 5 and 15 minutes after administration, which were the earliest assessment times. So the effect may have been even quicker.

The most common adverse event was a cough. However, all cough events were mild to moderate, occurred at the time of inhalation, resolved rapidly, and became less frequent after initial dosing. Less common adverse effects were dizziness and headache. There were no adverse effects on cardiovascular or lung function.

The speed of effect of the L-dopa inhaler and its limited adverse effects could enable it to be widely used when a rapid effect on Parkinson's Disease is required.

Reference : Science Translational Medicine [2016] 8 (360) : 360ra136 (M.M.Lipp, R. Batycky, J.Moore, M.Leinonen, M.I.Freed)
Complete abstract :
©2016 Viartis

Here's how Alzheimer's disease can be possibly prevented

Oct 22, 2016

Common diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain.

The study took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are evident. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington D.C.: A new study has found out that consuming pills that prevents the accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain might someday help prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease.

According to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the study took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are evident.
The scientists were able to prevent those early events and the subsequent development of brain pathology in experimental animal models in the lab.

"Common diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain," said senior author Huda Zoghbi. "Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease and dementia."

"Scientists in the field have been focusing mostly on the final stages of Alzheimer's disease," said first author Cristian Lasagna-Reeves. "Here we tried to find clues about what is happening at the very early stages of the illness, before clinical irreversible symptoms appear, with the intention of preventing or reducing those early events that lead to devastating changes in the brain decades later," Lasagna-Reeves added.

The scientists reasoned that if they could find ways to prevent or reduce tau accumulation in the brain, they would uncover new possibilities for developing drug treatments for these diseases.
Cells control the amount of their proteins with other proteins called enzymes. To find which enzymes affect tau accumulation, the scientists systematically inhibited enzymes called kinases.
"We inhibited about 600 kinases one by one and found one, called Nuak1, whose inhibition resulted in reduced levels of tau," said Zoghbi, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The scientists screened the enzymes in two different systems, cultured human cells and the laboratory fruit fly. Screening in the fruit fly allowed the scientists to assess the effects of inhibiting the enzymes in a functional nervous system in a living organism.

"Screening hundreds of kinases in the fruit fly animal model was critical because we could assess degeneration caused by tau in the fly's nervous system and measure neuronal dysfunction. Screening such a large number cannot be done with other animal models like the mouse, and cultured cells cannot model complex nervous system functions," said co-senior author Juan Botas.

Brain section from mouse carrying the dementia-causing P301S mutation in human tau shows accumulation of tau neurofibrillary tangles (in dark brown, left). When Nuak1 levels are decreased by 50 percent (P301S/Nuak1+/-; right), fewer tau tangles accumulate.

"We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of tau in both human cells and fruit flies," said Zoghbi. "Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behavior of the mice and prevented brain degeneration."

"Confirming in three independent systems - human cells, the fruit fly and the mouse - that Nuak1 inhibition results in reduced levels of tau and prevents brain abnormalities induced by tau accumulation, has convinced us that Nuak1 is a reliable potential target for drugs to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's," said Zoghbi. "The next step is to develop drugs that will inhibit Nuak1 in hope that one day would be able to lower tau levels with low toxicity in individuals at risk for dementia due to tau accumulation."

Scientific studies like this one that uncover basic biological mechanisms of disease make it possible to develop new strategies to prevent or treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or dementia.
In the future it might be possible to treat people at risk for Alzheimer's disease by keeping tau low. Think of how taking drugs that lower cholesterol has helped control the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
"When people started taking drugs that lower cholesterol, they lived longer and healthier lives rather than dying earlier of heart disease," said Zoghbi.

"Nobody has thought about Alzheimer's disease in that light. Tau in Alzheimer's can be compared to cholesterol in heart disease. Tau is a protein that when it accumulates as the person ages, increases the vulnerability of the brain to developing Alzheimer's. So maybe if we can find drugs that can keep tau at levels that are not toxic for the brain, then we would be able to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer's and other diseases caused in part by toxic tau accumulation," added Zoghbi.

The study has been published in Neuron.

Brain section from mouse carrying the dementia-causing P301S mutation in human tau shows accumulation of tau neurofibrillary tangles (in dark brown, left). When Nuak1 levels are decreased by 50 percent (P301S/Nuak1+/-; right), fewer tau tangles accumulate. image is credited to The Zoghbi lab/Baylor College of Medicine.


Think twice: the deadly risk of fake drugs

Author: Parkinson's Life editorsPublished: 20 October 2016

Up to 30% of medicines in the global market are fakes, according to experts. A new, hard-hitting video aims to show people the potentially lethal consequences of taking counterfeit drugs
Fake medicine poses a rising threat to patients, according to experts, with 10-30% of drugs produced worldwide believed to be counterfeit.
To combat the threat, the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) has launched a stark video that aims to confront public complacency over an issue to which “little thought is given” – despite the potentially lethal effects.
Viewers are asked to choose between two seemingly identical packs of pills – however, one is revealed to be a fake product. Depending on the viewer’s selection, the characters in the video live or die.
 Watch and interact with the video below:

Dr Frances Hughes, chief executive officer of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) – one of the WHPA member organisations backing the campaign – said: “The consequences of counterfeit medicines include no cure, resistance to treatment, spread of disease, permanent injury and even death.
“We need to empower the public through general health literacy and ensure there is more nursing involvement in strategies.”
Advice for consumers
Advice for healthcare professionals

Advice for policymakers

The risk to Parkinson’s patients of cheaper, online medicines has been highlighted as a major concern by campaigners.
The US-based Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation states on its website:
“Parkinson’s disease patients are heavily dependent upon their medicines to control their symptoms. Even a slight amount of dose alteration can produce severe fluctuations in their symptoms. With counterfeit medicines, you can never be sure about the exact composition of the drug, which can play havoc with the patient’s system. Either too little or too much of the active ingredient can be equally harmful.”
The expert advice continues: “With tampering of the drug, unknown substances may be present in the drug, the effects of which can be dangerous. This can cause drug interactions with your regular PD medicines or other medication.”
Luc Besançon, chief executive officer of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) said the ‘Countering the Counterfeits’ campaign is intended to make people “think twice about the choices they make”.
“We’re seeing an increase in fake medicines around the world and they’re becoming harder to identify due to technological advances.
“We wanted, through this video, to confront people with a situation to which little thought is often given. We wanted to give viewers the responsibility for what happens and, in doing so, to send home the message that there is a need to think twice about the choices they make. The aim was to enable informed decisions.”
Top tips for staying safe
For more information about how to identify and avoid counterfeit medicines, visit the EPDA website.

Sleeping in the side position may help reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease

October 22, 2016  By: Bel Marra Health 

Getting a good night’s sleep is important if we want to be productive and happy. Our bodies have been telling us this for years and so have countless sleep studies. Now we’re learning that it’s not just the quality of sleep we get that is vital to our well-being, it’s also the sleep positions we choose.
According to the latest research, sleeping on our side – as opposed to our back or stomach – could be a healthier position for our brain. Sleeping on the side allows our brain to clear out waste while we are resting.
Researchers from Stony Brook University used an MRI to monitor what is called the brain’s glymphathic pathway. This is the system that takes waste out of our brains. The researchers discovered this system works best when people sleep on their sides. Neurologists say brain waste can include proteins that make up the plaque linked to Alzheimer’s disease. This means that sleeping style could be a factor in developing such neurological diseases.
The brain’s cleansing process clears out waste when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) filters through the brain and exchanges with interstitial fluid (ISF). This process is similar to the way the body’s lymphatic system cleans waste from our organs, and it is most efficient while we are sleeping.
The good news is, the majority of human beings do sleep on their side. It has been suggested that we naturally adapted to the side-sleeping position to clear out brain waste products that build up while we are awake. The researchers believe the study adds more support to the idea that sleep serves as a biological function to “clean up the mess” that develops while we are awake.

Brain diseases linked to sleep positions

A lot has been written about the link between sleep difficulties and memory loss in diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory skills. Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to stiffness, shaking, and difficulties with walking and balance.
The neurological study carried out by the team at Stony Brook University was in fact an animal study, so the next step is to conduct a human study.
Right now, over five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, the American Alzheimer’s Association predicts that number will triple to 16 million by 2050. Parkinson’s disease affects one million Americans, with at least 60,000 new cases annually.

How sleep positions can affect your health

Sleeping position: On your back
Sleeping on your back is the best position to get proper rest. The back-sleeper maintains the back, neck, and spine in a neutral position, making it better for your body’s alignment, especially if you’re prone to back pain, stiffness, or other back problems. The back position is also good for circulation to the brain and preventing acid reflux. When the head is elevated (a single, puffy pillow is recommended), your stomach sits below your esophagus, so acid or food can’t come back up. While it’s best to avoid foods that irritate or cause acid reflux, this is a reassuring technique.
You’ve heard of the term “beauty sleep?” The back-sleeper has the advantage when it comes to wrinkle prevention, simply because nothing is pushing against your face during the night, creating those dents and creases. Breasts, too, can benefit from back-sleeping, keeping them perky by the full support throughout the night.
Sleeping position: On your side
Side sleepers, good for you! Next to the back, sleeping in this position is good for your overall health and lets you spoon with your partner as you drift off to la-la land. Even better, sleep on your left side, which helps ease heartburn and acid reflux. Side-sleeping reduces snoring. Also, sleeping on your left side is the best position during pregnancy. It boosts circulation to the heart, so it’s also a boost for the baby. Pregnant women should not sleep on their back because of the extra pressure and weight this puts on the spine.
Sleeping position: Curled into fetal position
Retreating into the fetal position, with your knees pulled up high and your chin tucked into your chest may seem like the ultimate security blanket, but it’s not so good for your health. It restricts your deep diaphragmatic breathing and puts pressure on your organs, not to mention your spine. People with an arthritic back or joints will only feel more irritation. Straightening out a little can help make this position work better for you. In the fetal position, face wrinkles will be aggravated, although snoring could improve.
Sleeping position: On your stomach
Not good, not good! Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your spine. Twisting your neck and face to the side all night on the pillow will cause aches and pains and further discomfort. It puts added pressure on muscles and joints that can snowball by irritating nerves, resulting in numbness and tingling.
Facedown keeps your upper airways more open. So if you snore and aren’t suffering from neck or back pain, it’s fine to try sleeping in this position.

Other health problems linked to sleep positions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30 percent of Americans have poor sleep habits. Many people toss and turn all night long. While this is not a healthy routine – bad sleep has been associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and memory loss, as mentioned above – there are also other health problems that have been linked to certain sleep positions.
While sleeping on our sides may help clear out waste, there has been much debate about what side is best. Some sleep disorder experts suggest that sleeping on our left side is not good for our liver, lungs, or heart due to the unnecessary pressure this position puts on these organs.
The heart has received the most attention when it comes to sleeping. While there is no clear evidence to suggest sleeping on your right side is better if you are generally in good health, it has been shown that people with chronic heart issues do better sleeping on their right side, as opposed to their left. Studies have indicated that lying on the right reduces heart rate and blood pressure, which is especially beneficial when dealing with heart conditions. Just exactly why this happens is still under investigation. However, some medical researchers suspect when the right side is down, the heart is in a “superior position,” making it much easier to pump blood out.
Sleep specialists estimate that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, so taking a look at current sleep positions and the possible health implications isn’t a bad idea for all of us. The National Sleep Foundation and many orthopedic surgeons tell us that 80 percent of the population will have back or neck problems at some point in our lives, often due to the way we sleep.

Parkinson's app brings together gaming and health care

Oct 22, 2016  By Cory Correia, CBC News

Mini-games test reaction time and working memory to help people manage their Parkinson's disease

The Gift Shop game tests working memory by asking players to recall items from the store. (Helen Goddard/Conquer Mobile)

A new app called Cognitia PD is connecting gamer skills and health care to improve disease management for people with Parkinson's disease.
The app is made up of several mutli-level mini-games and will be distributed to Parkinson's support groups throughout North America. 
Researchers from UBC's Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre are gathering information on players' working memories and reaction times. 
New Apple CareKit health apps help users manage medical conditions
Smartphones tested as tools for medical research
App gives voice to people with disabilities
Kathy O’Donoghue (right) of Surrey-based Conquer Mobile is developing a new app to help patients manage Parkinson's disease. Her sister Nancy (left) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago. (Kathy O’Donoghue/Conquer Mobile)

The project began in August following a chance encounter at a Parkinson's fundraiser a few months earlier, where the managing director of Surrey based Conquer Mobile, Kathy O'Donoghue, met the director of UBC's Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre, Dr. Martin McKeown. 
O'Donoghue, whose sister Nancy has had Parkinson's for 10 years, was interested in connecting her game development skills with Parkinson's research. 
"It feels good to build technology for family.  And ... beyond my passion for helping people with Parkinson's, it's really great to see gaming, technology and mobile apps help us solving problems that we face in our everyday lives," said O'Donoghue.

Improvements to patient care

According to Dr. McKeown, one of the key concerns with Parkinson's patients is the monitoring of their symptoms and medication.
He says patients normally meet with a specialist just once a year and the scarcity of professionals in remote areas can amplify that problem. 
The Cognitia PD app aims to reduce this issue by providing physicians with daily or weekly records of a patient's disease progression based on their game play, instead of a once-a-year snapshot. 
"In between visits, if you're playing this game and your health changes, you're not just on your own. You know there's some comfort in the fact that your doctor is monitoring the data once a week or how ever often you play," said O'Donoghue.

Mass distribution

The app developers and researchers are currently sifting through data from their first test of the games at the World Parkinson's Congress in Portland last month, but McKeown says they are also looking for participants with and without Parkinson's to sign up to use the app. 
"This is becoming an increasingly important area in Parkinson's. I think we've always known that we needed to be able to monitor people over time. I think the problem is that the technology just wasn't there to enable us to do this," said McKeown.
O'Donoghue and McKeown say they are working on a few more games to test other functions and plan to have the app available across all platforms soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tweaking Immune Response May Be a Key to Combating Alzheimer’s