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Muhammad Ali's Daughter Champions Fight Against Parkinson's Disease
Date:5/3/2013

you can't walk down the hallway to get the right advice. You may be able to slow the progression of the disease," May May advised. "Make it your business to know everything you can about what it is that's affecting your life." She also encourages people with Parkinson's to work with a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders.

Committed to raising people's understanding of the disease, May May, 44, has supported the Parkinson Alliance as a spokesperson since 2002. This includes helping publicize its annual Unity Walk, which was held Saturday in New York's Central Park. She also works as a program manager in Los Angeles' gang reduction and youth development program. Divorced, with no children, she said she's committed to helping others and is also studying organizational management at Antioch University.

While some promising new approaches to treating Parkinson's loom on the horizon, researchers say the condition is still poorly understood.

"We have no solid theory of what causes Parkinson's disease," said James Beck, director of research for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. "We still know so little about the disease. A lot of basic science needs to be funded."

Beck said the drugs available now are designed to help reduce disease symptoms but don't attack their cause. Late-stage clinical trials are looking at what role so-called "A2A receptor antagonists" might play in reducing movement problems. Scientists are also testing possible gene therapy and stem cell applications, and looking at mutations in cell proteins associated with Parkinson's to understand what part they might play. They're also looking at what role, if any, the immune system might have in fighting development of the disease, he explained.

"There's a lot of hope for people with Parkinson's disease -- and progress is being made -- but it needs to be measured hope," Beck said.

Ali, now in the later stages of Parkinson's, has 24-hour care. His personalit
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