The Fox Focus 2023 Fall/Winter | Page 16

14 Fox Focus | Living with Parkinson ’ s

Dr . Dolhun Talks PD

Refining the Language of Parkinson ’ s : Starting from the Inside Out

Rachel Dolhun , MD , DipABLM , is a movement disorder specialist , lifestyle medicine physician and senior vice president of medical communications at MJFF .
What is Parkinson ’ s disease ? Not an easy question to answer . But at its core , Parkinson ’ s is a movement disorder . It ’ s a disease that impacts movement , causing motor symptoms like tremor , slowness and stiffness . These symptoms are how , for nearly two centuries , we ’ ve recognized and defined Parkinson ’ s . They ’ re what doctors have used to diagnose the disease , get a sense of where someone is in their journey and gauge changes over time . Researchers , too , have relied on symptoms to determine who ’ s eligible for a clinical trial and to measure the impact of therapies in testing .
Yet we ’ ve long known that Parkinson ’ s is much more than its symptoms . And now , thanks to the recently validated test , or biomarker , we
can consider new ways of defining the disease more completely and clearly . For the first time , we can identify the Parkinson ’ s protein alphasynuclein in living people . That means we can start to piece together what ’ s happening underneath symptoms , what ’ s going on inside the body and brain . We can examine when and how Parkinson ’ s changes genes , proteins and dopamine levels — the biology of the disease .
New research frameworks will use this biology to reframe our thinking and streamline clinical trials . These systems aim to build more consistent definitions of disease , grounded in objective biological data , to pave a clearer , quicker path toward better treatments and tests . And they address the continuum of
The medical information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only . The Michael J . Fox Foundation for Parkinson ’ s Research has a policy of refraining from advocating , endorsing or promoting any drug therapy , course of treatment , or specific company or institution . It is crucial that care and treatment decisions related to Parkinson ’ s disease and any other medical condition be made in consultation with a physician or other qualified medical professional .