Welcome to Our Parkinson's Place

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. I have Parkinson's
diseases as well and thought it would be nice to have a place where
updated news is in one place. That is why I began this blog.
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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Healthy Living: Parkinson's disease is complex, challenging

November 5, 2016    By 
You have reached a mature age and start noticing a subtle tremor in one of your hands. This, along with many other symptoms, can indicate Parkinson’s disease.
A hand tremor, of course, could signal any number of medical conditions, and a discussion with your doctor is the best place to start.
But, as a neurologist, I want to share what we know about a common neurodegenerative condition known as Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of brain cells containing a very specific chemical called dopamine. We do not know what leads to the loss of these cells, but it is likely related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive disorder, and frequently recognized symptoms include tremor, slowness of movements, muscle stiffness and gait abnormality.
However, Parkinson’s disease is complex, and many other organs and systems are frequently involved, leading to some under-recognized but very important symptoms, which affect the quality of life of patients. These include constipation, lack of sense of smell, dizziness, depression, anxiety, memory loss and sleep disorders.
The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease requires a detailed physical and neurological exam, as well as some diagnostic testing to help us rule out other conditions which can mimic this disorder. Frequently, your primary care physician will make a referral to a neurologist.
Parkinson’s disease is challenging, but a multidisciplinary approach to the management of the symptoms allows the patient to sustain good quality of life for several years.
There are numerous medications, which allow us to manage some of the symptoms with success, but medications are only part of the treatment plan.
Exercise plays a very important role in a comprehensive treatment plan. There are a number of exercise programs that have been shown to be very beneficial for patients with this condition.
Frequently, other disciplines, such as speech therapy and physical and occupational therapy, play important roles in the course of treatment.
While Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease, being proactive in your care can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. My experience tells me that patients who are determined to maintain an active and happy life generally have the best outcomes.
Indeed, many of my patients are doing just that, and they are an inspiration, not just to others with Parkinson’s, but to all of us.
Dr. Maria Moro-de-Casillas is a neurologist in the L+M Medical Group.

Tuning the Brain to Alleviate Pain

Many people live with Pain and have Parkinson's, that's why I am placing this post.

Summary: According to researchers, both visual and auditory stimulation can significantly induce pain intensity.

Source: University of Manchester.

Nerve cells on the surface of the brain are co-ordinated with each other at a particular frequency depending on the state of the brain.Neurosciencenews image is adapted from the University of Manchester press release.

Scientists at The University of Manchester have shown for the first time that if the brain is ‘tuned-in’ to a particular frequency, pain can be alleviated.
Chronic pain- pain which lasts for more than six months – is a real problem for many people, with 20-50 % of the general population estimated to suffer from it (comprising 20% of consultations in general practice).

It is a much greater problem in the elderly with 62% of the UK population over 75 year’s old suffering from it. Chronic pain is often a mixture of recurrent acute pains and chronic persistent pain. Unfortunately there are very few treatments available that are completely safe, particularly in the elderly.

Nerve cells on the surface of the brain are co-ordinated with each other at a particular frequency depending on the state of the brain. Alpha waves which are tuned at 9-12 cycles per second have been recently associated with enabling parts of the brain concerned with higher control to influence other parts of the brain.

For instance researchers at the Human Pain Research Group at The University of Manchester found that alpha waves from the front of the brain, the forebrain, are associated with placebo analgesia and may be influencing how other parts of the brain process pain.
This led to the idea that if we can ‘tune’ the brain to express more alpha waves, perhaps we can reduce pain experienced by people with certain conditions.

Dr Kathy Ecsy and her colleagues in The University of Manchester’s Human Pain Research Group have shown that this can be done by providing volunteers with goggles that flash light in the alpha range or by sound stimulation in both ears phased to provide the same stimulus frequency. They found that both visual and auditory stimulation significantly reduced the intensity of pain induced by laser-heat repeatedly shone on the back of the arm.

Professor Anthony Jones is the director of the Manchester Pain Consortium which is focussed on improving the understanding and treatment of chronic pain. He said: “This is very exciting because it provides a potentially new, simple and safe therapy that can now be trialled in patients. At recent public engagements events we have had a lot of enthusiasm from patients for this kind of neuro-therapeutic approach.”

Further studies are required to test the effectiveness in patients with different pain conditions but the simplicity and low cost of the technology should facilitate such clinical studies.

Dr Chris Brown, who is a Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Liverpool, who was involved in the research while working in Manchester, said: “It is interesting that similar results were obtained with visual and auditory stimulation, which will provide some flexibility when taking this technology into patient studies. For instance this might be particularly useful for patients having difficulty sleeping because of recurrent pain at night.”


Source: Andy Henion – University of Manchester
Image Source: This image is adapted from the University of Manchester press release.
Video Source: The video is credited to University of Manchester.
Original Research: Abstract for “Alpha-range visual and auditory stimulation reduces the perception of pain” by K. Ecsy, A.K.P. Jones, and C.A. Brown in European Journal of Pain. Published online November 2 2016 doi:10.1002/ejp.960


Alpha-range visual and auditory stimulation reduces the perception of pain

Alpha power is believed to have an inverse relationship with the perception of pain. Increasing alpha power through an external stimulus may, therefore, induce an analgesic effect. Here, we attempt to modulate the perception of a moderately painful acute laser stimulus by separately entraining three frequencies across the alpha band: 8, 10 and 12 Hz.
Participants were exposed to either visual or auditory stimulation at three frequencies in the alpha-band range and a control frequency. We collected verbal pain ratings of laser stimuli from participants following 10 minutes of flashing LED goggle stimulation and 10 minutes of binaural beat stimulation across the alpha range. Alterations in sleepiness, anxiety and negative mood were recorded following each auditory or visual alpha-rhythm stimulation session.
A significant reduction in pain ratings was found after both the visual and the auditory stimulation across all three frequencies compared with the control condition. In the visual group, a significantly larger reduction was recorded following the 10-Hz stimulation than succeeding the 8- and 12-Hz conditions.

This study suggests that a short presentation of auditory and visual stimuli, oscillating in the alpha range, have an analgesic effect on acute laser pain, with the largest effect following the 10-Hz visual stimulation. Pain reductions following stimulation in the alpha range are independent of sleepiness, anxiety, and negative moods.
This study provides new behavioural evidence showing that visual and auditory entrainment of frequencies in the alpha-wave range can influence the perception of acute pain in humans.
“Alpha-range visual and auditory stimulation reduces the perception of pain” by K. Ecsy, A.K.P. Jones, and C.A. Brown in European Journal of Pain. Published online November 2 2016 doi:10.1002/ejp.960

Sunshine Matters a Lot to Mental Health: Temperature, Pollution and Rain Not So Much

Summary: When it comes to your mental and emotional health, the amount of time between sunrise and sunset is the weather variable that matters most, a new study reports.

Source: Brigham Young University.

From left to right: Dennis Egget, Lawrence Rees and Mark Beecher. image is credited to Nate Edwards/BYU.

BYU psychologist, physicist and statistician collaborate on unique study.
Sunshine matters. A lot. The idea isn’t exactly new, but according to a recent BYU study, when it comes to your mental and emotional health, the amount of time between sunrise and sunset is the weather variable that matters most.

Your day might be filled with irritatingly hot temperatures, thick air pollution and maybe even pockets of rainclouds, but that won’t necessarily get you down. If you’re able to soak up enough sun, your level of emotional distress should remain stable. Take away sun time, though, and your distress can spike. This applies to the clinical population at large, not just those diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“That’s one of the surprising pieces of our research,” said Mark Beecher, clinical professor and licensed psychologist in BYU Counseling and Psychological Services. “On a rainy day, or a more polluted day, people assume that they’d have more distress. But we didn’t see that. We looked at solar irradiance, or the amount of sunlight that actually hits the ground. We tried to take into account cloudy days, rainy days, pollution . . . but they washed out. The one thing that was really significant was the amount of time between sunrise and sunset.”Therapists should be aware that winter months will be a time of high demand for their services. With fewer sun time hours, clients will be particularly vulnerable to emotional distress. Preventative measures should be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, started with a casual conversation that piqued Beecher’s professional curiosity.
“Mark and I have been friends and neighbors for years, and we often take the bus together,” said Lawrence Rees, a physics professor at BYU. “And of course you often talk about mundane things, like how are classes going? How has the semester been? How ’bout this weather? So one day it was kind of stormy, and I asked Mark if he sees more clients on these days. He said he’s not sure, it’s kind of an open question. It’s hard to get accurate data.”

A lightbulb went off in Rees’ head. As a physics professor, Rees had access to weather data in the Provo area. As a psychologist, Beecher had access to emotional health data for clients living in Provo.
“We realized that we had access to a nice set of data that not a lot of people have access to,” Beecher said. “So Rees said, ‘Well, I’ve got weather data,’ and I’m like, ‘I’ve got clinical data. Let’s combine the pair!’ Wonder Twin powers activate, you know?”

The duo then brought in BYU statistics professor Dennis Eggett, who developed the plan for analyzing the data and performed all of the statistical analyses on the project.
Several studies have attempted to look at the weather’s effect on mood with mixed results. Beecher cited four reasons why this study is an improvement on previous research:
  • The study analyzed several meteorological variables such as wind chill, rainfall, solar irradiance, wind speed, temperature and more.
  • The weather data could be analyzed down to the minute in the exact area where the clients lived.
  • The study focused on a clinical population instead of a general population.
  • The study used a mental health treatment outcome measure to examine several aspects of psychological distress, rather than relying on suicide attempts or online diaries.
  • The weather data came from BYU’s Physics and Astronomy Weather Station, and the pollution data came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mental and emotional health data came from BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.
The three BYU professors were just the beginning of the collaboration on this research. There are 10 other authors listed on the study, including Davey Erekson, Jennie Bingham, Jared Klundt, Russell Bailey, Clark Ripplinger, Jessica Kirchhoefer, Robert Gibson, Derek Griner, Jonathan Cox and RD Boardman. Both Ripplinger and Kirchhoefer are currently doctoral students in BYU’s counseling psychology program.
Funding: Funding provided by Leverhulme Trust.
Source: Jon McBride – Brigham Young University
Image Source: image is credited to Nate Edwards/BYU.
Original Research: Abstract for “Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress” by Mark E. Beecher, Dennis Eggett, Davey Erekson, Lawrence B. Rees, Jennie Bingham, Jared Klundt, Russell J. Bailey, Clark Ripplinger, Jessica Kirchhoefer, Robert Gibson, Derek Griner, Jonathan C. Cox, and R.D. Boardman in Journal of Affective Disorders. Published online November 2016 doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.07.021


Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress
Researchers have examined the relationship between mental health and weather/pollution with mixed results. The current study aimed to examine a range of weather and atmospheric phenomena and their association with time-bound mental health data.

Nineteen different weather/pollution variables were examined in connection with an archive of self-reported mental health data for university students participating in mental health treatment (n=16,452) using the Outcome Questionnaire 45.2 (OQ-45). Statistical approach involved randomly selecting 500 subjects from the sample 1000 different times and testing each variable of interest using mixed models analyses.

Seasonal changes in sun time were found to best account for relationships between weather variables and variability in mental health distress. Increased mental health distress was found during periods of reduced sun time hours. A separate analysis examining subjects’ endorsement of a suicidality item, though not statistically significant, demonstrated a similar pattern. Initial results showed a relationship between pollution and changes in mental health distress; however, this was mediated by sun time.

This study examined a relatively homogenous, predominantly European American, and religious sample of college counseling clients from an area that is subject to inversions and is at a high altitude and a latitude where sun time vacillates significantly more than locations closer to the equator.

Seasonal increases in sun time were associated with decreased mental health distress. This suggests the need for institutions and public health entities to plan for intervention and prevention resources and strategies during periods of reduced sun time.

“Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress” by Mark E. Beecher, Dennis Eggett, Davey Erekson, Lawrence B. Rees, Jennie Bingham, Jared Klundt, Russell J. Bailey, Clark Ripplinger, Jessica Kirchhoefer, Robert Gibson, Derek Griner, Jonathan C. Cox, and R.D. Boardman in Journal of Affective Disorders. Published online November 2016 doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.07.021

Exercise: An effective prescription for joint pain

November 5, 2016

Joint pain can rob you of life's simple pleasures — you may no longer look forward to walking your dog, gardening, or chasing a tennis ball across the court. Even the basics of getting through your day, like getting into the car or carrying laundry to the basement, can become sharp reminders of your limitations.

Is joint pain holding you back? Perhaps an achy ankle or sore knee is making it difficult to enjoy a run through your favorite park or even taking a short walk. Or maybe a throbbing hip or shoulder prevents you from whacking a golf ball or performing simple tasks like carrying a bag of groceries. The exercises in this report can help relieve ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain, and help you become more active again, which can help you stay independent long into your later years.

But the right exercises performed properly can be a long-lasting way to subdue ankle, knee, hip, or shoulder pain. Although it might seem that exercise would aggravate aching joints, this is simply not the case. Exercise can actually help to relieve joint pain in multiple ways:
  • It increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints. When thigh muscles are stronger, for example, they can help support the knee, thus relieving some of the pressure on that joint.
  • Exercise relieves stiffness, which itself can be painful. The body is made to move. When not exercised, the tendons, muscles, and ligaments quickly shorten and tense up. But exercise — and stretching afterward — can help reduce stiffness and preserve or extend your range of motion.
  • It boosts production of synovial fluid, the lubricant inside the joints. Synovial fluid helps to bring oxygen and nutrients into joints. Thus, exercise helps keep your joints "well-oiled."
  • It increases production of natural compounds in the body that help tamp down pain. In other words, without exercise, you are more sensitive to every twinge. With it, you have a measure of natural pain protection.
  • It helps you keep your weight under control, which can help relieve pressure in weight-bearing joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles.
If all this isn't enough, consider the following: exercise also enhances the production of natural chemicals in the brain that help boost your mood. You'll feel happier — in addition to feeling better.

Classes tailored to those with Parkinson’s

Erin McPhee / North Shore News  NOVEMBER 4, 2016

NeuroFit BC founder Naomi Casiro works with Corey Stewart in executing a drill on a heavy bag during a boxing and Parkinson’s-specific exercise class Monday at North Vancouver’s Universal MMA. photography Cindy Goodman, North Shore News 

When registered physiotherapist Naomi Casiro saw firsthand the positive impact exercise can have on people with Parkinson’s disease her path became clear.
“Once you see the difference it can make, it’s kind of amazing, it sparks this drive and gets you going. That’s what started the whole venture,” she says, referring to her decision to launch NeuroFit BC, a company offering physiotherapist-led exercise and wellness classes to those with the neurodegenerative disease.
Up and running since April, Casiro has put her experiences working with Parkinson’s patients over the last few years to good use and is continuing to expand NeuroFit BC’s offerings.
“The mission of the company is to get people with Parkinson’s doing Parkinson’s-specific exercise that leads to brain change, which helps them manage their symptoms, mitigate disease progression and help them live better, help them live happier, fuller lives and they get to be able to do the things that they want to do for longer,” says the certified PWR! (an acronym for Parkinson wellness recovery) therapist and Vancouver resident.
NeuroFit BC offers ongoing boxing and Parkinson’s-specific exercise classes in Vancouver and Burnaby as well as in North Vancouver at Universal MMA.
“The research has shown very strongly that big, dynamic goal-directed movements are really good for Parkinson’s and so boxing is a fun, exciting way to help these people move bigger and better, because their movements get really stiff and really small with Parkinson’s. We’re running these boxing classes and they’re such a great way to get people smiling and doing something they enjoy and at the same time helping them change their symptoms and actually leave feeling better and moving better than when they came in,” she says.
Casiro has heard the classes have helped people go from not being able to get up off the ground to being able to return to hiking and walking longer distances. Also, she’s heard from people who were unable to roll over in bed who can now do so without a problem. They too have been able to resume daily activities that they thought they would never be able to do again.
“People are always told Parkinson’s is progressive, you’re not going to get better, and it is a progressive neurological condition, but actually people can improve their symptoms through exercise,” she says.
Classes are offered in groups of eight and community members are assessed prior to joining. Sessions begin with a dynamic warm-up, focused on balance, strength and agility, followed by a series of co-ordination movements, both on and off the ground. “Then we get our boxing gloves on and we box against a heavy bag. It’s non-contact boxing, but we do a lot of drills and different punching movements to try and challenge their brains and their bodies at the same time,” says Casiro of the high-intensity hour-long class, followed by a cool down.
In addition to specialized group exercise classes, NeuroFit BC provides one-on-one physiotherapy sessions in patients’ homes or in a gym setting. In an effort to reach more Parkinson’s patients as well as make it easier for them to do Parkinson’s-specific work at home more often, Casiro is in the process of launching a new free at-home exercise video series.
“I’m proud to be serving a group in the community that has been under served in the past. The research has shown how incredible exercise is for neuroplasticity and brain change but clients are told to exercise and then they have nowhere to go to tell them how and what they should be doing and how to do it without getting injured. I’m proud to be providing a service that I think helps change people’s lives and that’s why I started doing it in the first place because I really think it does change lives for the better.”

Retreat gives respite to caregivers

November 4, 2016

Manicurists from John A. Logan College Cosmetology Department form an assembly line to provide manicures at a retreat for caregivers.

Fall Back and Relax!" was the theme of the day at a caregiver retreat, sponsored by Franklin/Williamson Healthy Communities Coalition late last month at the Carterville Community Center. 
Dr. Gynelle Baccus, also known as "Ms. Carrie Giver," was the hostess and master of relaxation for the day. In fact, she was so relaxed that she appeared in her favorite pseudo-leopard skin pajamas, later changing her attire. 
Baccus is the coordinator of "Our Healthy Circle" at Heartland Regional Medical Center. 
"You are so overwhelmed, you don't take care of yourselves," Baccus reminded the caregivers, both men and women, who attended the retreat. 
She then proceeded to tell caregivers how to create a cozy corner in their own homes for pampering themselves – an area with an easy chair, cuddly blanket, stash of chocolate, green plant, aromatic candle, reading material and maybe a glass of wine. She then provided Bible verses on the subject of peace. 
Mark Kiesling, TV 3 news anchor, who has been a caregiver for his wife, Debbie, for over 20 years, served as keynote speaker. 
Debbie spends her days in a wheelchair and depends on Mark for many of her activities, although she is capable in many ways, including cooking. She was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor in 1985, underwent two major surgeries and also suffered with a heart problem. 
Nine years ago, the Kieslings adopted their three granddaughters, which added to their busy schedule. 
"He is the best husband ever," Debbie said. "This is the role God put us in." Mark's mother was also in the audience as a caretaker for her husband, who has Parkinson's disease. 
Mark's advice to the caregivers was simple. 
"Take time to relax and recharge," he said. "Make memories with that loved one." 
One of the many caregivers at the retreat was Georgia Elkins of Marion. Her husband, Norman, has Parkinson's disease. He had been taken to Addus Healthcare Day Care for the day, a part of the services offered free for the caretakers. 
Elkins was a bit apprehensive about leaving him, but she was soon assured by one of the workers, who had called to check on him, that he was chatting with two other men there. 
This was Ekins' first time to attend the retreat, which has been offered annually for several years. She took advantage of the free services, including a foot massage. 
Shirley Cunningham of Marion, while waiting for her foot massage, talked about Floyd, her husband of 52 years, who has had Parkinson's disease for 11 years. She has been his only caregiver for the past five years, and was thankful for a friend who took Floyd out for lunch, so she could attend the retreat. 
Phyllis Wohlwend of Creal Springs also enjoyed a rare day away from home. Her husband of 31 years, Carl, had open heart surgery in 2011, followed by a bout with cancer, and now he is on dialysis.

One of those on the morning program was the Rev. Sherry Black, who serves as chaplain/spiritual care manager for Herrin Hospital. She provided caregivers with some exercises in relaxation and breathing techniques. She also talked about resources to help people stay in their own home as long as possible. 
Patrick Laws of Senior Adult Services in Carbondale provided a humorous look at caregiving with his speech, "Sometime You Just Gotta Laugh." 
The afternoon provided a round of manicures and cosmetic makeovers, thanks to cosmetology students from John A. Logan College. 
Also working magic with a curling iron was Jim Matranga of Johnston City, who prepped ladies for glamour shots. He is the official hairdresser at Parkway Manor in Marion. 
Pam Stout of Allied Physicians and Rehab of Carbondale offered a spin-the-wheel game for prizes, with everyone winning a free massage. 
As the relaxed caregivers departed, they agreed that being a caregiver for a loved one is among the hardest jobs a person can have, and many indicated that they would return for the caregiver retreat next fall.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Brain Inflammation in Football Players Tied to Dementia and, Possibly, Parkinson’s in Study

NOVEMBER 4, 2016 Joana Fernandes, PhD

Brain inflammation suffered by athletes in contact sports like football appears to be directly linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a cause of dementia, and may lead to neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, according to a study in the journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications.
Indeed, the authors argue that American football players and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma are at higher risk of developing such inflammation, and the number of years they engage in such activities can predict the occurrence of brain disease.
In the study, “Microglial Neuroinflammation Contributes To Tau Accumulation In Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy,” researchers analyzed how sports can trigger the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive and degenerative brain disease associated with brain trauma due to repetitive hits to the head.
They analyzed postmortem brain samples from 66 former football players and 16 non-athlete controls, and found that samples from the players had higher numbers of inflammatory cells in the frontal cortex of the brain and signs of CTE.
They also found that the number of years playing football was proportional to the number of inflammatory cells, and the development of CTE pathology and dementia.
“This study provides evidence that playing football for a prolonged period can result in long-term brain inflammation and that this inflammation might lead to CTE,” Jonathan Cherry, PhD, the study’s first author, said in a news release. “Although inflammation may be protective in the brain especially right after an injury, our study suggests that years after a period of playing football inflammation can persist in the brain and is linked to the development of CTE”.
According to the researchers, future studies are warranted to understand whether treating this inflammation can prevent or avoid the development of CTE.
“Furthermore, brain inflammation could be used as a predictive biomarker to help identify patients at risk of developing CTE in life,” said Cherry.

Dave Parker describes his experience with Parkinson's disease

November 4, 2016   By Gary Rotstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dave Parker at PNC Park in 2004.

Now they might notice a tremble in his hand. His words come out a little slurred. His strides aren’t what they once were.
But when speaking about his own four-year battle with Parkinson’s disease at a conference in Green Tree Saturday, he will make sure patients, family caregivers, medical professionals and others attending know he’s still a fighter, and that everyone with the disease should stay active and spirited in meeting it headlong.
“All my life has been about challenges,” Mr. Parker said in a phone interview from his Cincinnati home today. “I’ve still got that competitiveness in me. You’ve got to play the hand that’s dealt, and that’s the approach I’m taking.”
The centerpiece of the Pirates’ last World Series club is the keynote speaker at Saturday’s Living Well With Parkinson’s Disease Conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Green Tree. The event is presented by the Cahouet Center for Comprehensive Parkinson’s Care at Allegheny Health Network and the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania.
Like the late Muhammad Ali before him, Mr. Parker is one of America’s great athletes dealing with the physical impact of a disease that affects more than 1 million people and has no cure. It typically affects motor functions such as movement and balance and can impair speech and other abilities.
It often shows up first in tremors, which is how a doctor detected it in Mr. Parker in early 2012 during a routine physical. A regular golfer, Mr. Parker had begun noticing some trembling in his right hand but had no idea it was something as serious and permanent as Parkinson’s until the doctor observed it and sent him to a neurologist for formal diagnosis.
Mr. Parker says he has been able to manage the disease through a medication, Carbidopa, and a regular workout regimen — weightlifting, stretching, stationary bike, treadmill — either in a gym or at home. He forgets thoughts sometimes, though, and knows his words don’t come out as perfectly as they once did for a man famous for his confident banter.
“The key, really, is to be active,” he said. “To go out and socialize and walk and exercise. Parkinson’s has a tendency to make you want to sleep and not be active, and you’ve got to work beyond that. For me, I’ve got to take an athlete’s approach to it — force myself to go to the gym. ... I’m managing the disease pretty well though — I know what to expect.”
One change is how others perceive him. He runs into people who come up to hug and encourage him — a big man who was always a dominant presence, now appreciative of the support he receives from others.
“I recently saw a friend of mine, my high school third baseman, and he walked up to me and grabbed me real tight and he just started crying. I told him, ‘I’m all right, don’t worry about me, I’m taking care of it.’ But for him to walk up to me and squeeze me and cry like he did, that touched me. I get that all the time now ... but I don’t want nobody to feel sorry for me. I’ve got to play the hand that’s dealt.”
Mr. Parker started the DaveParker39 Foundation in his hometown to begin raising money to assist Parkinson’s awareness and programs. He runs an indoor baseball clinic across the street from his home. He still golfs, though he says he can’t hit a drive 345 yards like he once did.
“Now it’s 270 or 280. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but it still goes.”
As to what he’ll be telling people Saturday, he said, “Don’t let the disease beat you. Stay active, if you want to maintain your quality of life. You’ve got to live with it, and there’s no way to get around facing that we’ve got it, but we can get it treated.
“Look at it as a challenge.”
The conference in Green Tree runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the DoubleTree, at 500 Mansfield Ave. Those interested who have not yet registered are still invited to attend the event, which has a $25 fee.

Scientists at Buck Institute for Research on Aging receive research grants

November 3, 2016   By Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal
Dr. Julie Andersen is a scientist and professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Robert Tong — Marin IJ
Dr. Julie Andersen, a scientist and professor at Novato’s Buck Institute for Research on Aging, has received a $200,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to study brain aging as a factor in Parkinson’s disease.
Andersen’s research has focused on lithium as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease as well as its effectiveness when combined with drugs used to control the symptoms of the disease. Two previous studies conducted by Andersen’s lab found that low doses of lithium prevented symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice genetically engineered to develop the disease.
Also from the Buck Institute, Dr. Jennifer Garrison, an assistant professor, has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the American Federation for Aging Research to advance her work in researching the biology of aging and age-related diseases.

Llama Antibodies May Detect Cerebral Lesions Associated with Alzheimer’s

Summary: Researchers have developed a new, non invasive way to bypass the blood brain barrier and reach brain cells in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease using two types of llama antibodies.

Source: Institut Pasteur.

The specific VHH antibody for plaques, labeled with a green fluorochrome, is injected into mice. The VHH travels along the blood vessels before marking the plaques in the brain. Photo taken using two-photon microscopy. image is credited to Institut Pasteur.
The major challenge facing physicians treating Alzheimer’s is the ability to detect markers of the disease as early as possible. These markers, located in the brain, are difficult to access, hampering diagnosis. Using two types of llama antibody capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, scientists from the Institut Pasteur, Inserm, the CNRS, the CEA, Pierre & Marie Curie and Paris Descartes Universities and Roche have developed a non-invasive approach to reach brain cells in a mouse model of the disease. Once in the brain, these llama antibodies can specifically mark and show amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, the two types of lesions that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. These results were published in the Journal of Controlled Release on October 7, 2016.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by two types of cerebral lesion: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid beta peptide (Aβ), naturally present in the brain, builds up over the years as a result of genetic and environmental factors until it forms amyloid plaques. This build-up is toxic for nerve cells: it leads to a loss of neuronal structure and to what is known as “neurofibrillary” tangles (abnormal aggregation of the tau protein), which in turn results in cell death.

In this study, the team led by Pierre Lafaye, Head of the Antibody Engineering Platform in the Citech at the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the Chemistry of Biomolecules and Integrative Neurobiology of Cholinergic Systems Units from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS, developed two new types of antibody capable of detecting the extracellular and intracellular targets (respectively amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. To achieve this, they turned their attention to camelids, specifically llamas, since their small antibodies are easy to use. They used the variable region of the antibody, known as VHH or nanobodiesTM, to specifically recognize the markers of Alzheimer’s.

These antibodies have the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which generally protects the brain from microbial attacks but also prevents potential therapeutic molecules from reaching it.

This collaborative research project, jointly conducted by scientists from the Institut Pasteur, Inserm, the CNRS, the CEA, Pierre & Marie Curie and Paris Descartes Universities and the Roche Group, led to the development of anti-Aβ and anti-tau protein antibodies that specifically detect amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. These antibodies were subsequently tested in vitro on the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients.
The antibodies were then tested in vivo in two mouse models, each with one of the two characteristic lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These antibodies, labeled with a green fluorochrome, were injected intravenously and crossed the blood-brain barrier, binding to the two targets the scientists were aiming to identify: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. This made the signs of the disease visible in the brain using two-photon microscopy. The scientists involved in this collaborative project are currently working on the development of an MRI imaging technique to observe the lesions. In the long term this could be applied to humans.

“Being able to diagnose Alzheimer’s at an early stage could enable us to test treatments before the emergence of symptoms, something we were previously unable to do,” explained Pierre Lafaye. These VHH antibodies could be used in combination with therapeutic molecules so that the molecules can be delivered in a targeted way to the brain.
Patents have been filed for these VHH antibodies and for their use based on their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to amyloid plaques and tau proteins.
Funding: This research was partly funded by the Roche Institute, the France Alzheimer Foundation and the Georges Pompidou Foundation.
Source: Myriam Rebeyrotte – Institut Pasteur 
Image Source: This image is credited to Institut Pasteur.
Original Research: Abstract for “Camelid single-domain antibodies: A versatile tool for in vivo imaging of extracellular and intracellular brain targets” by Tengfei Li, Matthias Vandesquille, Fani Koukouli, Clémence Dudeffant, Ihsen Youssef, Pascal Lenormand, Christelle Ganneau, Uwe Maskos, Christian Czech, Fiona Grueninger, Charles Duyckaerts, Marc Dhenain, Sylvie Bay, Benoît Delatour, and Pierre Lafaye in Journal of Controlled Release. Published online November 3 2016 doi:10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.09.019


Camelid single-domain antibodies: A versatile tool for in vivo imaging of extracellular and intracellular brain targets
Detection of intracerebral targets with imaging probes is challenging due to the non-permissive nature of blood-brain barrier (BBB). The present work describes two novel single-domain antibodies (VHHs or nanobodies) that specifically recognize extracellular amyloid deposits and intracellular tau neurofibrillary tangles, the two core lesions of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Following intravenous administration in transgenic mouse models of AD, in vivo real-time two-photon microscopy showed gradual extravasation of the VHHs across the BBB, diffusion in the parenchyma and labeling of amyloid deposits and neurofibrillary tangles. Our results demonstrate that VHHs can be used as specific BBB-permeable probes for both extracellular and intracellular brain targets and suggest new avenues for therapeutic and diagnostic applications in neurology.
“Camelid single-domain antibodies: A versatile tool for in vivo imaging of extracellular and intracellular brain targets” by Tengfei Li, Matthias Vandesquille, Fani Koukouli, Clémence Dudeffant, Ihsen Youssef, Pascal Lenormand, Christelle Ganneau, Uwe Maskos, Christian Czech, Fiona Grueninger, Charles Duyckaerts, Marc Dhenain, Sylvie Bay, Benoît Delatour, and Pierre Lafaye in Journal of Controlled Release. Published online November 3 2016 doi:10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.09.019


November 4, 2016

Oxidative stress is proposed to be one of the potential mechanisms leading to deterioration in Parkinson's Disease. However, previous studies investigating the association between antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins C, E and A (carotenoids), and the risk of Parkinson's Disease have produced inconsistent results.
Over 1000 people with Parkinson's Disease were assessed concerning the effect of antioxidant vitamins on Parkinson's Disease. Dietary intakes of vitamin E and vitamin A (carotenoids) were not associated with the risk of Parkinson's Disease. However, dietary vitamin C intake was significantly associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's Disease, down to 80%, but this was not long term. For vitamins E and C, intake from foods and supplements combined were also unrelated to Parkinson's Disease risk.
In Parkinson's Disease L-dopa is not formed properly. Superoxide anion can be formed when L-dopa is not formed properly. Superoxide anion is broken down by the enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase, which require Vitamin C and Vitamin E. In previous studies the greatest effect of antioxidants was with the use of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which were shown to slow down the progression of Parkinson's Disease.

Reference : Movement Disorders [2016] Oct 27 [Epub ahead of print] (K.C.Hughes, X.Gao, I.Y.Kim, E.B.Rimm, M.Wang, M.G.Weisskopf, M.A.Schwarzschild, A.Ascherio)

Complete abstract :
©2016 Viartis