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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2 Million Grant From EMD Serono to Research Projects on Cognitive Deficits in Parkinson's Disease
Date:10/14/2008

els to explain these features of the disease; a lack of basic knowledge of the mechanisms that underlie these symptoms; inadequate understanding of the clinical features of these symptoms in PD; and a need for relevant clinical scales to improve diagnosis and for use as tools in clinical intervention trials. Funded teams will pursue approaches within each of these areas to improve the field's ability to model and test interventions for these symptoms.

Eugenia Gurevich, PhD, of Vanderbilt University (USA) will test the hypothesis that simultaneous reduction of dopamine and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a major role in memory formation, leads to symptoms of PD-related dementia. To test this hypothesis, her group will administer a Parkinsonian toxin to preclinical models with lowered levels of acetylcholine, then measure their performance on a battery of cognitive tests. If the preclinical models show cognitive impairment, this project could lead to the identification of a novel preclinical model for testing therapeutic strategies for the cognitive symptoms of PD.

John Growdon, MD, of Harvard University (USA) will build on preliminary data implicating the protein beta amyloid -- better known for its role in Alzheimer's disease -- in PD-related cognitive changes. Dr. Growdon will enroll 40 PD patients, half of whom are experiencing cognitive impairment. Working with Pittsburgh compound B (PIB), an imaging agent developed by Alzheimer's researchers to visualize amyloid protein accumulation in the living brain, Dr. Growdon's team will scan the PD patients' brains. The researchers will then follow this cohort of patients over a two-year period to determine the extent of cognitive changes undergone by each and correlate this data to the scans. The work could lead to the initial validation of amyloid as a therapeutic target of interest and potential biomarker for PD-related cognitive decline.

Ben Schmand, PhD, of Academic Medical Center
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SOURCE EMD Serono, Inc.
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