Can a computer program help find a new drug treatment for Parkinson’s disease? Will boxing and dancing restore my function? These were some of the questions discussed at the latest Movement Disorders Speaker series held on May 2nd at the BMO Education and Conference Centre in the Krembil Discovery Tower.
Dr. Lorraine Kalia, a neurologist in the Gloria and Morton Shulman Movement Disorders Clinic at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre provided an explanation about the role of a protein called a-Synuclein causes cell death in the brain. By targeting this protein, researchers are finding ways to stop this disruption. Two areas that were discussed were in re-purposing medications currently in use for other conditions (such as amantadine prescribed for influenza). Finding uses for approved drugs can shorten the discovery time significantly because much of the research on safety has been done.
“With so many medications on the market, how can we possibly go about testing them all?” asks Dr. Connie Marras. This is where the IBM Watson Project comes in. This computer platform reviews all the scientific literature and medical databases to find connections between medications and Parkinson’s disease patients. In a current safety study going on at the Krembil, the medication isradipine which is used for high blood pressure, is being tested for its potential to reduce dyskinesia.
The lecture also featured personal stories from three patients who have turned to physical exercise as a complementary therapy. Activities such as rowing, boxing and dancing are helping these patients by boosting mood and energy.
Contact us to find out when the next Movement Disorder Speaker Series is scheduled.
The Movement Disorders Speaker Series is made possible through the generosity of John and Sheila Milne.