The 14th Annual Jane Wright Symposium on Parkinson’s Disease for Patients and Caregivers

Published by Benjamin Deck, Udall Coordinator 

The 14th annual Jane Wright conference was held on June 15th at the Sheraton Hotel on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. The Jane Wright conference is an annual symposium that brings together the local Parkinson’s community to hear presentations around a central theme and to make people with Parkinson’s (PwP) and their loved ones aware of available resources. The theme this year was, “Hot Topics in Parkinson’s Disease” and the attendance reached an all-time high of over 200 people.

Professor Emeritus of Neurology, Dr. Matthew Stern, MD opened the conference with his lecture on Parkinson’s history and discussed updates to James Parkinson’s original definition of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Some of the issues Dr. Stern outlined were disparate pathologies in PD, PD subtypes, and the idea that current diagnostic criteria do not allow for early diagnosis in PD. One precluding factor of early diagnosis is that motor symptoms are typically not present until later stages of the disease.

The second speaker was the newly appointed Director of Medicine at the Penn Neurological Institute, Dr. Andrew Siderowf, MD. Dr. Siderowf presented new therapeutics in PD such as Safinamide, Rytary, Droxidopa, and Primavanserin. Dr. Siderowf’s presentation also touched on newer surgical interventions for PD such as Focused Ultrasound and Duopa. The presentation then focused on disease modifying procedures and medications that are currently under development, i.e. gene therapy, alpha synuclein anti-body trials, and treatments specialized for specific genetic mutations in PD. View his presentation here.

Assistant Professor of Neurology, Dr. Lama Chahine, MD, spoke of biomarkers and the crucial role that they will play in the diagnosis, prognostication, and treatment of PD. Dr. Chahine made the compelling case for further research on biomarkers in PD by showing the subjectivity of in-clinic motor exams, which are currently the gold standard for a PD diagnosis in movement disorder clinics. Dr. Chahine emphasized that biomarker discovery in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), blood, and tissue sampling (collected most recently for this trial), could one day diagnose patients earlier and/or better treat the disease.

The final speaker at this year’s Jane Wright Conference was Movement Disorders Fellow, Dr. Michelle Fullard, MD. Dr. Fullard’s presentation outlined the recent technological advances that are helping to deliver better and more accessible treatments. Telemedicine has been implemented in many clinics and decreases travel burden for PD patients who often find this to be a barrier to quality care. Telemedicine allows physicians to remotely diagnose and treat individuals through the use of telecommunications technology. Dr. Fullard also discussed wearable devices that can track a PD patient’s movements through the use of accelerometers and other such technology. The hope its that these devices would allow movement disorder specialists to better understand the motor complications of their patients.

JW Symposium 2017 picture

Lastly, Dr. Stern was awarded an Proclamation signed by Mayor Jim Kenney that decrees April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month in Philadelphia. The proclamation was presented by Ms. Lori Katz and a represenative from Mayor Kenney’s office (pictured above).

View all presentation slides here.

 

What is PD? Help spread the word during Parkinson’s Awareness Month

 Parkinson’s Awareness Month

PDAwarenessThroughout the month of April, the IOA will be celebrating Parkinson’s Awareness Month. As close collaborators of the Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research and the Penn Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center (PDMDC), it is our goal to help facilitate and support the groundbreaking research and care for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and their loved ones here at Penn.

 

 

So, what is Parkinson’s disease?

SubstantiaNigraParkinson’s disease is a “chronic and progressive disorder of the nervous system that primarily affects movement.” It develops when a group of cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra begin to malfunction and die. These cells are responsible for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends information to the parts of the brain that control movement and coordination. As the dopamine-producing cells die and the level of dopamine in the brain decreases, messages from the brain telling the body how and when to move are slowed more and more, rendering the person unable to initiate and control movement normally.

Other symptoms of PD can include problems with thinking and changes in mood and/or sleep, as well as involuntary movements like tremors or muscle stiffness. While there is currently no cure for PD, there are ways to treat the symptoms. Treatment options include deep brain stimulation, drug treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychiatric and neuropsychology services, and speech therapy among others.

Parkinson’s Disease Facts
Courtesy of PDMDC and michaeljfox.org

  • Parkinson’s disease affects one in 100 people over the age of 60.
  • The exact cause of PD is unknown, but both genetic and environment are causes.
  • There is no single test to diagnose PD. Neurologists make diagnoses based on assessment of symptoms, medical history, and neurological and physical examinations. In some cases, advanced imaging techniques like MRI scans or dopamine imaging scans can help make the diagnosis by ruling out other disorders.

Celebrate Parkinson’s Awareness Month with the IOA

#FaceTheFactsFriday: This year, the IOA will celebrate Parkinson’s Awareness month in a few different ways. Each Friday this month, the IOA will participate in ‘Face the Facts Friday.’ Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for a new Parkinson’s disease fact each week. Share our posts and use the hashtags #FacetheFactsFriday and #ParkinsonsAwarenessMonth to join in on the conversation and help spread the word!

Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research Virtual Tour

Towards the end of the month, be sure to keep an eye out for the official premiere of the Penn Udall Center for Parkinson’s Research Virtual Tour video! The video will highlight the talented team of researchers, scientists, and Udall collaborators and the groundbreaking work being done here at Penn. You will get a look into both the clinical and basic research that is at the foundation of our projects and how these investigators are working to improve and increase the levels of education and research on this neurodegenerative disease.