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Michael J. Fox Foundation Awards $2 Million for Clinical Research on Postural Instability and Gait Disturbances in Parkinson's Disease
Date:12/28/2009

NEW YORK, Dec. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has awarded a total of $2 million to five research teams carrying out clinical studies to refine understanding of postural instability and gait disturbances (PIGD) in Parkinson's disease, and help speed the development of urgently needed treatments. The funding was made possible by a generous lead gift from The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, a steadfast supporter of The Michael J. Fox Foundation's mission to speed transformative treatments and a cure for Parkinson's disease.

PIGD encompasses a constellation of Parkinson's symptoms including freezing of gait, difficulty initiating movement, shuffling, falling and other specific problems with balance. No currently available PD treatments alleviate these symptoms. Their biological causes are not well understood and may originate outside the dopamine system, as these symptoms respond inconsistently or not at all to dopamine replacement therapy.

PIGD affects only a subset of Parkinson's patients, but is associated with highly troubling clinical features: a malignant and faster-progressing disease course; increased risk of cognitive deficits and dementia; a greater likelihood of needing to enter a care facility; and risk of falling 10 times higher than that of normal-aging elderly.

  • A team at Northwestern University will build on the finding that many people with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) eventually develop Parkinson's disease. The researchers will investigate the possibility that RBD and freezing of gait share common abnormalities in the brain and that RBD could serve as an early warning sign for risk of Parkinson's disease dominated by PIGD and freezing of gait.
  • Researchers at the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate how two specific regions may interact with other areas of the brain to cont
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SOURCE Michael J. Fox Foundation
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