Clinical Trials for Parkinson’s Disease

Christopher Goetz, MDBy Christopher G. Goetz, MD

At Rush, the longstanding Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program has a strong commitment to studying new treatments for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Because the scientific questions and patient concerns change during the course of this disease, a comprehensive program needs to have multiple programs testing new therapies.

In the early phase of Parkinson’s disease, when symptoms are very mild, the primary research focus is to develop interventions that halt or slow the progression of disability. In the midpoint of the disease, improved treatments of the core signs of Parkinson’s disease become the focus, because tremor, slowness, stiffness and balance difficulties can be inadequately controlled by currently available medications. In the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, concerns focus increasingly on non-motor concerns such as cognitive problems, apathy and hallucinations.

Many patients and their families participate in research to gain access to these new treatments and to advance the scientific understanding of Parkinson’s disease for the good of all people in the world with this disease. These research studies provide not only the possibility of a new treatment, but research subjects spend more time with staff, receive education, and often meet other research subjects, thereby broadening their understanding and empowerment.

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Progress in Finding a Cure For Huntington’s Disease

KathleenShannonBy Kathleen Shannon, MD

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an incurable hereditary disease of the nervous system that affects movement, thinking, mood and behavior.

The gene that causes Huntington’s disease was discovered in 1993, and it is now possible to insert the abnormal gene into various animals, then test drugs for potential effects to slow down the devastating condition.

A number of promising drugs have been identified in this way. However, this now means that it is critical to enroll research participants into human studies of these drugs as well as into studies that help to better diagnose HD and better design new human studies.

At this time, there are studies available for patients with early symptoms of HD as well as studies for people at risk for the disease and HD family members. For more information, please call Jeana Jaglin, RN, at (312) 563-2900.

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Kathleen M. Shannon, MD, is an associate professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center. Her clinical practice focuses on Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, dystonia and other movement disorders.