Tagged: Parkinsons

Repurposing: From enlarged prostates to Parkinson’s

 

This week exciting new research from a collaboration between Chinese researchers and scientists at the University of Iowa has pointed towards a clinically-available, generic drug that could be re-purposed for Parkinson’s.

The researchers found a drug called Terazosin – which is used for the treatment of enlarged prostates and high blood pressure – can boost energy production in neurons, and also rescue multiple preclinical models of Parkinson’s (including human cell cultures).

Most intriguing, however, was their discovery that people taking Terazosin (or similar drugs) have a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s, and people with Parkinson’s who take Terazosin seem to have less disease progression.

In today’s post, we will look at what Terazosin is, how it functions, what this new research suggests, and how the finding is being taken forward.

 


Reader questions. Source: Yoursalesplaybook

So I have had a few inquiries over the last 24 hours.

Lots of questions.

A wee bit of interest in some recent Parkinson’s associated research.

It seems that there was a bit of excitement generated by press releases regarding new research from a group of researchers in China and the University of Iowa suggesting that a commonly used blood pressure and prostate treatment called Terazosin not only had beneficial effects in multiple models of Parkinson’s, but also reduced the incidence of Parkinson’s in people taking the drug.

Terazosin. Source: Wikipedia

Here is the study in question:

Title: Enhancing glycolysis attenuates Parkinson’s disease progression in models and clinical databases.
Authors: Cai R, Zhang Y, Simmering JE, Schultz JL, Li Y, Fernandez-Carasa I, Consiglio A, Raya A, Polgreen PM, Narayanan NS, Yuan Y, Chen Z, Su W, Han Y, Zhao C, Gao L, Ji X, Welsh MJ, Liu L.
Journal: J Clin Invest. 2019 Sep 16. pii: 129987.
PMID: 31524631                (This report is OPEN ACCESS if you would like to read it)

In this study, the researchers investigated the properties of a drug called terazosin in various models of Parkinson’s.

What is terazosin?

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Resolvin(g) Parkinson’s

 

A major focus on Parkinson’s research is inflammation.

Inflammation is a vital part of our immune system’s response to infection or injury. It is means by which the body signals to the cells of immune system that something might be wrong and help is required. It is a complex, multi-stage process, involving many different mechanisms which help to amplify and resolve the response.

Recently, some researchers reported some interesting data regarding the ‘resolving’ aspect of the inflammatory response in Parkinson’s. It involved a protein called Resolvin.

In today’s post, we will look at what Resolvin is, what the new research reported, and how this information could be useful in the development of future therapies for Parkinson’s.

 


Spot the unhealthy cell – exhibiting signs of stress (yellow). Source: Gettyimages

When cells in your body are stressed or sick, they begin to release tiny messenger proteins which inform the rest of your body that something is wrong.

When enough of these messenger proteins are released that the immune system becomes activated, it can cause inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a critical part of the immune system’s response to trouble. It is the body’s way of communicating to the immune system that something is wrong and activating it so that it can help deal with the situation.

By releasing the messenger proteins (called cytokines), injured/sick cells kick off a process that results in multiple types of immune cells entering the troubled area of the body and undertaking very specific tasks.

The inflammatory process. Source: Trainingcor

The strength of the immune response depends on the volume of the signal arising from those released messenger proteins. And there are processes that can amplify the immune response.

But an important component of the immune response that is often overlooked is resolution.

Once an infection/injury has been dealt with, the immune response must be resolved. And there are tiny messenger proteins that our body producing naturally which involved in dampening down the immune response. They are typically released when a situation has been resolved.

One group of resolving messenger proteins are called Resolvins.

What are Resolvins?

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Monthly Research Review – August 2019

 

At the end of each month the SoPD writes a post which provides an overview of some of the major pieces of Parkinson’s-related research that were made available during August 2019.

The post is divided into seven parts based on the type of research:

  • Basic biology
  • Disease mechanism
  • Clinical research
  • New clinical trials
  • Clinical trial news
  • Other news
  • Review articles/videos

 


So, what happened during August 2019?

In world news:

7th August – Scientists discovered that staring at seagulls can stop them from stealing food (Click here to read more about this – no, really, this is serious science).

14th August – Swedish climate activist, 16 year old Greta Thunberg set sail across the Atlantic ocean in a zero-carbon yacht – almost one year after she started her school strike for the climate protest on 20 August – to attend various meetings in the US (Click here to read more about this).

23rd August – At the G7 meeting, Western countries (who have utterly deforested themselves in the name of commerce) decried the burning of the Amazon rain forest (which does NOT contain 20% of the world’s oxygen – click here to read more about that), rather than simply proposing to re-foresting themselves (Click here to read more about this).

[Sorry to get political, but having returned from 12 days off the grid, I am shocked and saddened by the level of nonsensical noise upon reconnecting]

27th August – American rocket company SpaceX conducted a successful flight of their “Starhopper” craft. Starhopper is an early test prototype of SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing Starship spacecraft (Click here to read more about this)

28th August – Greta arrived in New York (Click here to read more about this).

In the world of Parkinson’s research, a great deal of new research and news was reported:

In August 2019, there were 924 research articles added to the Pubmed website with the tag word “Parkinson’s” attached (5688 for all of 2019 so far). In addition, there was a wave to news reports regarding various other bits of Parkinson’s research activity (clinical trials, etc).

The top 5 pieces of Parkinson’s news

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A re-think of PINK

 

The immune system is our main line of defense against a world full of potentially dangerous disease causing agents. It is a complicated beast that does a fantastic job of keeping us safe and well.

Recently, however, there was an interesting study suggesting that a genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s may be associated with an over-reaction from the immune system in response to infection from a common human food poisoning bug.

Specifically, mice who were missing the gene PINK1 literally had an ‘autoimmune reaction’ to the infection – that is the immune system began attacking healthy cells of the body – while normal mice (with intact PINK1 genes) recovered from the infection and went about their business.

In today’s post, we will explore this new research and discuss why we may need to rethink PINK.

 


Source: Huffington Post

I have had a guts full of all this gut research being published about Parkinson’s.

[NOTE 1.: For the unitiated: A “guts full” – Adjective, Kiwi colloquialism. Meaning ‘Had enough of’, ‘fed up of’, ‘endured to the point of tolerance’]

[NOTE 2.: The author of this blog is a Kiwi]

I really can’t stomach anymore of it.

And my gut feeling suggests that there is only more to come. It would be nice though, to have something else… something different to digest.

So what is today’s post all about?

Gut research of course.

But this gut research has a REALLY interesting twist.

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When Bluerock became Bayer

 

Cell replacement therapy is a key component of any “cure” for Parkinson’s – replacing the cells that have been lost over the course of the condition.

Cell transplantation of dopamine neurons has a long track record of both preclinical and clinical development and represents the most developed of the cell replacement approaches.

Two weeks ago, the biotech firm BlueRock Therapeutics announced an agreement under which the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG would fully acquire the company.

In today’s post we will discuss why this is major news for the Parkinson’s community and an important development for the field of cell replacement therapy.

 


Source: Wikipedia

On the 8th August, Bayer AG and BlueRock Therapeutics announced an agreement under which Bayer will “fully acquire BlueRock Therapeutics, a privately held US-headquartered biotechnology company focused on developing engineered cell therapies in the fields of neurology, cardiology and immunology, using a proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform” (Source).

What is BlueRock Therapeutics?

BlueRock is a biotech firm that was foundered in 2016 as a joint venture between the investment firm Versant Ventures and Leaps by Bayer (with US$225 Million in Series A Financing).

Versant Ventures is a leading venture capital firm that specializes in investing “in game changing biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other life science opportunities”. Leaps by Bayer is an effort by the Pharmaceutical company Bayer at “spearheading a movement to make paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better”.

The news on the 8th August means Bayer will acquire the remaining stake for approximately US$240 million in cash (to be paid upfront) and an additional US$360 million which will be payable upon the achievement of certain pre-defined development milestones.

Given that Bayer currently holds 40.8% stake in BlueRock Therapeutics, this announcement values the company at approximately US$1 billion.

Interesting, but what exactly does BlueRock do?

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Monthly Research Review – July 2019

EDITIORIAL NOTE: Apologies to readers for the lack of content on the SoPD website this month. At the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, we have been preparing dossiers for the Linked Clinical Trials meeting in August. I will explain this process and the initiative in a future post, but for now just understand that the preparation is a 7 days/week, 9am-2am marathon task – which has been left little time (or energy) for the SoPD.

In addition, I will be completely off the grid from the 1st August for 12 days, so expect further radio silence. No laptop. No phone (how will I survive?!?!). After that, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled content (and a lot of catching up on recent research).

Kind regards, Simon

 

 

At the end of each month the SoPD writes a post which provides an overview of some of the major pieces of Parkinson’s-related research that were made available during July 2019.

The post is divided into seven parts based on the type of research:

  • Basic biology
  • Disease mechanism
  • Clinical research
  • New clinical trials
  • Clinical trial news
  • Other news
  • Review articles/videos

 


So, what happened during July2019?

In world news:

1st-14th Juy – Wimbledon!

16th and 17th July – A partial lunar eclipse occurred. The Moon was covered about 65% by the Earth’s umbral shadow at maximum eclipse. This was the last umbral lunar eclipse until May 2021.

19th July – A week after cricketer Ben Stokes led England to beat New Zealand in an epic world cup final, some Kiwis nominated him for the New Zealander of the year award. Technically it works: He was born in NZ and lived there until he was 12, he apparently has Maori blood, and his parents still live there in NZ. Soooo… (Click here to read more about this).

31st July – concerns regarding the latest Ebola outbreak as the World Health Organization confirms a second person has died of the disease in Goma – a major transit hub in Democratic Republic of Congo (Click here to read more about this)

 

In the world of Parkinson’s research, a great deal of new research and news was reported:

In July 2019, there were 782 research articles added to the Pubmed website with the tag word “Parkinson’s” attached (5089 for all of 2018 so far). In addition, there was a wave to news reports regarding various other bits of Parkinson’s research activity (clinical trials, etc).

The top 5 pieces of Parkinson’s news

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“Transdiagnostic” clusters

 

“In current models of neurodegeneration, individual diseases are defined by the presence of one or two pathogenic protein species. Yet, it is the rule rather than the exception that a patient meets criteria for more than one disease”

These are the first lines of a manuscript on the preprint sharing webiste BioRxiv, which analysed the co-occurance of biological markers of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative conditions across 18 brain regions in 1389 postmortem brain from people who passed away with a neurodegenerative condition.

The results are interesting.

In today’s post, we will discuss what this study did, what is meant by “transdiagnostic disease clusters”, and consider what could they mean for our understanding of Parkinson’s… and heck, neurodegenerative conditions in general.

 


Malcolm Gladwell. Source: Masterclass

I am a fan of Malcolm Gadwell (not an endorsement, this is just me sharing).

He has a great way of looking at a situation from a completely different angle, finding things that no one else sees, and then writing about it in a clever, easy to read manner. Having read most of his books, I was rather pleased to learn that he has a podcast – Revisionist History.

And it’s good.

Oh boy, it’s good.

The first episodes of the most recent series of the podcast have helped to raise my fragile self esteem, because I am definitely a tortoise (just listen to the first two episodes of season 4 and you’ll understand).

Oh, and Mr Gladwell, if you ever read this – in the next series of the podcast, please have a look at the dysfunctional way we clinically test new therapies in medicine – click here to read a previous SoPD rant on this topic. Thanks!

What does Malcolm Gladwell have to do with Parkinson’s?

It all comes back to that idea of looking at a situation from a completely different angle.

What do you mean?

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Dream, struggle, create, Prevail

 

The recent documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by the biotech firm Prevail Therapeutics provides interesting insight into the bold plans of this company which was only founded in 2017.

Even more recent news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application for its lead experimental treatment – PR001 – suggests that this company is not wasting any time. 

PR001 is a gene therapy approach targeting GBA-associated Parkinson’s.

In today’s post, we will discuss what GBA-associated Parkinson’s is, how Prevail plans to treat this condition, and discuss what we know about PR001.

 


Caterina Fake. Source: TwiT

The title of this post comes is from a quote by Caterina Fake (co-founder of Flickr and Hunch (now part of Ebay)), but it seemed appropriate.

This post is all about dreaming big (curing Parkinson’s), the struggle to get the research right, and to create a biotech company: Prevail Therapeutics.

What is Prevail Therapeutics?

Prevail is a gene therapy biotech firm that was founded in 2017.

The company was founded by Dr Asa Abeliovich:

Dr Asa Abeliovich. Source: Prevail

It was set up in a collaborative effort with The Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson’s with GBA (Click here to read a previous SoPD post about this organisation) and OrbiMed (a healthcare-dedicated investment firm).

What does Prevail Therapeutics do?

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I’m worried about my IMM-AGE

 

Researchers have recently described a new method to quantify a person’s “immune age” – a measure that could act as a key determinant of future health, as well as response to disease and treatment.

This novel test appears to provide a more reliable predictor for the status of one’s immune system than any other previous method.

And it could be useful in other ways.

In today’s post, we will discuss this new method of determining “immune age”, explore examples of how similar analysis has been used for other conditions, and consider what it could mean for Parkinson’s.

 


Source: Emaze

Do you remember Andre Agassi?

I know he’s still around, but when I was young and less beautiful, I was a big fan. Not only of his on court achievements, but also of his charismatic off-court image.

And it certainly paid off well for him:

One of the things that Agassi taught us was that “image is everything”.

Before Agassi, tennis was a conservative sport of white shirts & shorts (McEnroe was basically as radical as things got). It was bland, conservative, and – yes, I’ll say it – boring.

Agassi not only brought colour but charisma to the game. It was shocking and disgraceful to some, but to young, naive fools like me, it was a captivating breath of much needed fresh air.

Source: Hesaidandshesaid

Despite the early infatuation with the stylings of Mr Agassi, I have to admit that I have never remotely been concerned about own image. My dimensions mean that I wear what fits as opposed to what I like, and as a result the finished product is better behind a keyboard rather than speaking to a crowd.

But as I have gotten older, I have become concerned about a different kind of IMM-AGE (not a typo).

Let me explain: Recently some researchers in Israel and at Stanford University in the US published a rather remarkable research report which if replicated could have important implications for how we approach medical care.

What did they report?

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WPC 2019 – Day 3

 

Today’s post is a recap of Day 3 – the final day – at the World Parkinson’s Congress meeting in Kyoto, Japan.

I will highlight some of the presentations I was able to catch and try to reflect on what was an amazing meeting.

 


The final day of the WPC meeting for me started with Parkinson’s advocate Heather Kennedy‘s presentation on “Your radical new life: Creative ways to overcome our challenges”. In her talk, she spoke of the mindset that is required for tackling Parkinson’s and provided some advice on what-to-do and what-not-to-do.

And Heather was speaking from personal experience. Having been diagnosed in 2012, she has become an active advocate, supporter of Davis Phinney and Michael J Fox Foundations, and an administrator on several online sites. And she regularly speaks about different methods for overcoming the challenges of Parkinson’s:

“It is not ‘why is this happening to me?’, it is ‘what is this teaching me?”

Here is a presenation she gave at the recent Parkinson’s Eve meeting in the UK earlier this year:

Key among her pieces of advice is the need to make connections:

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