More than fifty members of the Bionic Brigade met last Friday for our monthly meeting. Our group was formerly known as the Denver Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Support Group until one member complained about the word “support” saying he never needed any support before DBS and wasn’t about to need it now. We changed our name to Bionic Brigade to more accurately reflect our upbeat attitude.
I don’t know if we needed support last Friday, but we certainly needed hope. With our friend, Valerie, at home suffering from complications from multiple DBS-related surgeries, we definitely needed something to look forward to for ourselves and future generations for those battling Parkinson’s Disease.
Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson
We received just the right dose of hope from our speaker, Dr. Curt Freed, Professor and Head, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, who spoke on a recent research breakthrough. Dr. Freed, along with Wenbo Zhou, PhD, have found that the drug, phenylbutyrate halts the progression of Parkinson’s in its tracks-- in mice anyway.
But researchers Freed and Zhou also discovered that the drug, phenylbutyrate, could activate the gene, DJ-1, that protects dopamine neurons in people with Parkinson’s Disease. If it works in humans, it could prevent the progression of the disease by turning on a protective gene in the brain.
The researchers studied this drug with 12 patients who were recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and determined its safety in humans. The drawbacks of this drug are that patients need to take large doses of large pills, many times a day, and the high cost of the drug. The next study will use this drug in a liquid form.
Dr. Freed is currently applying for several million dollars in funding for a future study of hundreds of people over several years. He is looking for people and who are relatively recently diagnosed and who are not taking other drugs for their Parkinson’s
Dr. Freed has devoted his entire career as a neuroscientist searching for a major breakthrough in the field of Parkinson’s Disease. Perhaps, this could be the breakthrough that he and the Parkinson’s community have been looking for. We can only hope.
Note: Phenylbuturate has been used to treat children with a rare liver condition for many years.
Presentation by Curt Freed, MD to Bionic Brigade (Denver DBS support group) on August 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado
CU researchers find promising drug for Parkinson's disease - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_18407428#ixzz1V25TuYaz
CU Researchers Find Promising Parkinson’s Drug, Colorado Public Radio http://www.cpr.org/#load_article|CU_Researchers_Find_Promising_Parkinsons_Drug
A Major Breakthrough in Parkinson’s Research http://parkinsonresearchfoundation.org/resources/information.aspx?post=b34c3000-f6af-4ed0-831f-e0c0962d91bf