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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

(The Netherlands) has been funded to extend an observational clinical study begun three years ago. His study has thus far collected a wealth of information on parkinsonism, neuropsychological status and quality of life. Dr. Schmand, who began his study with 120 people with PD and 70 controls, will now follow the remaining cohort of 90 patients and 60 controls with the objective of identifying early predictors of cognitive decline. Because preliminary data suggest that 20 percent of enrolled PD patients exhibited early cognitive impairment not observed in controls, extending the study should help detect further changes that will increase understanding of the phenomenology of cognitive changes in PD.

Connie Marras, MD, PhD, of the University of Toronto (Canada) will work to validate a well-known test for cognitive impairment, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), for diagnosing PD-related cognitive changes. Currently available tests for detecting cognitive impairment are either insensitive to the specific changes that occur in PD, test only some of the brain functions that can be impaired in PD-related dementia, and/or can be highly time-consuming. The MoCA, which takes less than 10 minutes to administer, could offer a wider window for detecting changes in PD patients. Dr. Marras will enroll 140 PD patients to take the MoCA questionnaire, whom she will then follow over time to determine the ability of MoCA to detect cognitive impairment in PD. Validation of the MoCA will provide a critical research tool needed to improve diagnosis of PD cognitive changes as well as for testing of novel therapeutics in future clinical trials.

Celeste Napier, PhD, of Rush University (USA) will work to shed light on the pathological gambling and other problems with impulse control that may be linked to dopamine replacement therapy in PD. While dopamine is involved with both the motor and reward systems, it is unclear why some PD patients exhibit reward-seeking behavior
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SOURCE EMD Serono, Inc.
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