The Fox Focus Fall/Winter 2017 - Page 5

Research Repurposing for Parkinson’s: Teaching Old Drugs New Tricks Could a diabetes or cancer drug treat Parkinson’s? That’s the idea behind “repurposing” — testing how a drug already on the market for one disease could treat another condition. Recent MJFF-funded trials of repurposed therapies may provide patients with more options. In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead for a Phase IIa clinical trial of the leukemia therapy nilotinib. And in August, results from a small Phase II trial of diabetes drug exenatide indicated potential benefit and the need for a larger, multicenter trial. Is Parkinson’s an Autoimmune Disease? Virtual House Calls to Treat Parkinson’s A recent Foundation- funded study at Columbia University uncovered that fragments of alpha- synuclein (a protein that clumps in the cells of people with Parkinson’s) are recognized in PD by the immune system, which could then respond and harm cells. A different study supported by MJFF from Emory University researchers showed an association between the immune system and LRRK2 protein. (Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are linked to PD.) Investigators next plan to test whether blocking the autoimmune response could slow disease progression. Listen to a podcast about these findings at michaeljfox. org/autoimmune. Seeing a doctor through a computer webcam or smartphone — called telemedicine — may help more people receive Parkinson’s care. A Foundation- backed study from the University of Rochester published in journal Neurology in August found telemedicine appointments were as effective as in-person visits in supporting patients’ quality of life. Participants received either their usual in-person care with their established provider or their usual care plus up to four telemedicine visits with a neurologist. Telemedicine could make specialized Parkinson’s care more accessible to people who experience mobility issues or who live too far away from specialists.    Stay connected with the latest scientific progress toward a cure at michaeljfox.org/researchnews. 5 Fall/Winter 2017