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This year marks an unfortunate anniversary – 190 years since James Parkinson wrote his “Essay on the Shaking Palsy”, identifying the disease that came to bear his name.
Parkinson’s Disease affects one in 500 of the general population – but it’s one in a hundred over the age of 60 and the ratio could go as high as one in twenty among those over 80. In the UK there are some 120,000 people with Parkinson’s Disease at any one time; in the USA there will be between 500,000 and a million sufferers.
Though it is increasingly recognised that it can affect younger people (the actor Michael J Fox, who has set up a foundation to fund research into the disease, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 at the age of 30), it is primarily a disease of the old – and with increasingly aging populations in many countries, Parkinson’s is set to become a major health issue with experts predicting anything up to a trebling of those affected!
King’s College London has just received a $350,000 award from the Michael J Fox Foundation to look for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, using controversial gene therapy. King’s College London has long been in the vanguard of the fight against Parkinson’s. Their spin out company, Proximogen Neuroscience established by Professor Peter Jenner, has been internationally recognised for its innovative work in tackling this debilitating disease; developing novel approaches to treatment and testing to relieve the most severe symptoms and side-effects of this neurodegenerative condition.
It’s Proximogen’s Prox-4 programme that has attracted the funding from the Michael J Fox Foundation. Their researchers have discovered a protein in the brain that seems to be an endogenous neuroprotectant and which is deficient in those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
The scientists aim is to place the gene for this protein in a viral vector that can be introduced directly into the brain, in order to utilise its neuroprotective effects – a therapy that could have far reaching implications not only for sufferers of Parkinson’s but also for people affected by other neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Motor Neuron disease.
Anticipated Shot List Loose news cut of approximately 5 minutes to include:-
Interview – Peter Jenner, Professor of Pharmacology, King’s College London
Interview – Ray Choudrey, Professor in Clinical Neurology, King’s College London
Interview – Tom Isaacs, MD Movers & Shakers (Parkinson’s related charity) and a Parkinson’s Disease patient
GVs – Research laboratory, King’s College London
GVs – Manufacture of pharmaceutical treatments for Parkinson’s Disease