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Letter from Leadership
The process of understanding and curing human disease is not a bundle of separate initiatives, each one distinct and insulated from all of the others. Rather, the process is a complex one in which one idea interacts with others.
This is demonstrated by the phenomenon that we call "repurposing," a concept that we address throughout this issue of News & Review, beginning with our lead article on page 1. Repurposing is what happens when a drug that is typically used for one medical condition is found to be effective in treating another. It means that we can scan the medicine cabinet for drugs that have already been developed to treat other medical conditions but that may have application to PD. Among the examples we cite are such well-known substances as statins, which are used to reduce levels of cholesterol.
We continue this theme, with a report on the work of Yvonne Schmitz, Ph.D. (page 3), whose research at the PDF-supported lab at Columbia University Medical Center has helped to identify Bitopertin, a drug being tested for use in schizophrenia, as having potential to treat Parkinson's. We see two more examples of repurposing in this issue’s Science News (page 1). In these articles, we report on the potential repurposing of two treatments: calcium channel blockers now used to reduce blood pressure, and injections of a common natural sweetener currently used to reduce pressure in the brain.
Just as drugs do not exist in a vacuum, neither do the human actors in the PD research drama find themselves confined to one part of the stage. There is a creative connection between the scientists who work to find new treatments; the doctors who prescribe and manage them; the allied health professionals who help people maintain a good quality of life; and the people with PD and families whose lives depend upon drug development. Celebrating this connection is the purpose of the Third World Parkinson Congress (see page 12), that will be taking place in Montreal, Canada, October 1– 4. PDF is proud to have been a founding partner of this exciting event.
One feature of this year's Congress will be the launching of a scientific grant — of $10,000 to $15,000 — that is the first of its kind to take its direction from the PD community. When you cast your vote — either at the conference itself or by phone or online — you let us know your priority for PD research. Then, we’ll fund a scientific award based on your feedback.
In our quest for understanding and curing Parkinson's, we need all of the inter-related parts of the system working together. Won't you join us?
Robin Anthony Elliott