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The first post at the start of each year on the SoPD website tries to provide an overview of where things are in the search for ‘disease modifying’ therapies for Parkinson’s.
It is an exercise in managing expectations as well as discussing what research events are scheduled for the next year so that we can keep an eye out for them. I will also note aspects of ongoing research where I will be hoping to see an update on progress. Obviously, where 2022 will actually end is unpredictable, but an outline of what is coming over the next 12 months will hopefully provide the community with a useful resource.
While there is a great deal of interesting research exploring the causes of the condition, the genetics and biology of the condition, novel symptomatic therapies, and other aspects of Parkinson’s, the primary focus in this post is on the clinical trial research seeking to slow, stop or reverse the condition.
In this post, we will hopefully give readers a taste of what the landscape looks like for clinical research focused on disease modification for Parkinson’s.
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“If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
The Scottish physician Dr David Livingstone – missionary and explorer – led an interesting life.
Most of us only know of him for his fabled adventures in Africa. But they are made more remarkable given his extremely humble beginnings.
Born into poverty, Livingstone started his working life at 10 years of age in a cotton factory, where he worked from 6am till 8pm everyday. He somehow managed to get some schooling around those work shifts, and his impoverished family saved enough money so that he could attend Anderson’s University (Glasgow) when he was 23.
Cotton factory (Source)
How he got from the cotton factory to becoming the first European to cross the width of southern Africa (as well as ‘discovering’ the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfalls – aka Victoria Falls), was one of the great rag-to-riches stories of Victorian times and making him something of a celebrity of the age.
Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfalls. Source: Cblacp
But his mapping out of central Africa was his greatest legacy.
As a biographer wrote “Through him, the centre of Africa ceased to be a dark, unknown space on the map and became a real place, full of interesting human beings [and] wonderful wildlife. . . .” (Source)
It has to be acknowledged, however, that Livingstone was not able to explore the entirety of the Zambezi River system himself so he would often ask the local people for information, and he would then incorporate their contributions into his maps.
Livingstone’s travels (Source)
“We travel in the company of men who are well acquainted with parts of the country by personal observation… They soon see that we are interested in the courses of rivers, names of hills, tribes…and make enquiries among the villagers to whom we come. Drawings are made on the ground and parts pointed out that bearings may be taken and comparisons drawn from the views of different individuals. We thus gain a general idea of the whole country” (Source)
It makes one appreciate that maps are collaborative efforts, incorporating the efforts of lots of different parties. And it is only by going through the process of mapping something out that we start to understand it, know our place in it, observe the limitations to our knowledge, and perhaps find something of what we are looking for.
At the start of each year, the SoPD publishes a horizon scanning post where we take a Livingstone-like approach towards mapping out the landscape of clinical research focused on disease modification for Parkinson’s, and what follows is the 2022 version.
Continue reading “The road ahead: 2022”