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MJFF Funds Two Investigations of Placebo Effect in Parkinson's Disease
Date:12/29/2009

be administered to patients and investigators at the outset of the study. These surveys will gather data on personal traits including optimism, social conformity and expectations of outcome. At the close of the trial, the survey results will be tracked with study outcomes to determine the impact of optimism and expectation of positive outcome on the effectiveness of different dyskinesia rating scales.

A Columbia University team led by Tor Wager, PhD, and Daphna Shohamy, PhD, will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at brain activity in Parkinson's patients as they execute specific motor and learning tasks, comparing how brain activity changes when the patients are given levodopa (the gold-standard treatment for Parkinson's disease) versus placebo. While previous imaging studies have demonstrated that placebo treatments can increase dopamine levels in patients' brains, there is little experimental evidence that these increased dopamine levels are tied to functional improvement on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), the tool used by clinicians to measure effects of experimental treatments. Drs. Wager and Sohamy will evaluate the potential of fMRI to provide such evidence. The goal is to more fully establish biological markers of placebo effects in PD and determine whether placebo effects lead to measurable functional improvement for patients.

The funded projects announced today were catalyzed in part by The Michael J. Fox Foundation's Placebo Response workshop held in March 2009. The workshop, co-funded by The Davis Phinney Foundation, convened leading experts to discuss and prioritize strategies for helping the field gain a greater understanding of placebo effects in PD in order to improve the design and testing of future therapeutics.

About The Michael J. Fox Foundation

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, a
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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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