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Around & About the Community

PDWebcast Series Visits Washington

On October 11, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) and the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation (NWPF) co-hosted “Surgical Advances in Parkinson’s Disease,” the third in a series of four educational symposia and webcasts presented during 2008-2009.  Nearly 100 people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), along with their care partners, friends and health professionals, gathered on site in Spokane, WA, while more than 500 participants watched online.

Each of the symposium’s four sessions addressed one or more surgical treatments for PD, including some that are already available, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), and others that are still in development, like gene therapy. 

Jaimie Henderson, M.D., of Stanford University Medical Center, began the day with a talk on “Deep Brain Stimulation and Parkinson’s Disease.”  He explained the surgical procedure and noted that although DBS can be very effective (with as much as a 60 percent overall reduction in PD’s motor symptoms), it carries some risk of complications, and is not an ideal treatment for everyone with PD.

Next, Monique L. Giroux, M.D., and colleague Sierra Farris, M.P.A.S., PA-C, both of the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care Center in Kirkland, WA, shared insights on “Living with DBS: Preparation, Management and Follow-up,” discussing what people need to know before and after surgery. 

Dr. Giroux stressed that factors such as health conditions (other than PD itself), or behavioral and emotional concerns, can determine whether a person with Parkinson’s will or will not benefit from DBS.  Ms. Farris answered questions from the audience regarding side effects, long-term outcomes, the role of the care partner and typical recovery time.

Later in the day, Jeffrey Kordower, Ph.D., of Rush University Medical Center discussed “Future Surgical Techniques,” focusing primarily on developments in the field of gene therapy.  While no gene therapy treatment is currently approved to treat PD, he said, there are several clinical trials studying its potential.  [Editor’s note: after this symposium, a trial testing one potential gene therapy treatment, CERE-120, showed no evidence that the treatment was effective.  Read the News in Brief article from our Winter 2009 newsletter to learn more about that trial.]  He explained that gene therapy is a surgical procedure in which a non-harmful virus is injected into a person’s brain.  The virus then releases a gene that produces new proteins — proteins which may be helpful in easing symptoms of Parkinson’s and, potentially, in slowing its progress.

To watch “Surgical Advances in Parkinson’s Disease,” please visit www.pdf.org/webcast

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Join Us for PDF’s Spring Gala!  

Save the date for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s (PDF’s) annual gala, Bal du Printemps, which will be held on Tuesday, May 12, at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. 

Led by Honorary Chairs Page Morton Black, Amy Goldman and Judith Sulzberger M.D., Bal du Printemps will gather PDF friends and supporters to celebrate the community leaders who advance Parkinson’s science and the philanthropic leaders who make these advances possible with their generous financial support.  The evening will also serve to raise funds for PDF’s research programs. 

Under the leadership of 2009 Dinner Chairs Stephanie Goldman-Pittel and Margo Catsimatidis, the gala will include cocktails, dinner, dancing, and a silent auction.  It will also feature an awards presentation honoring Evan and Sandra Stern and Family, longstanding supporters of PDF.

To learn more about Bal du Printemps, or to make a reservation to attend, please contact Patrick Johnson at (800) 457-6676 or info@pdf.org.  Online registration will open later in the spring at http://www.pdf.org/en/gala.