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.

 

CNDR Retreat 2015: “Focusing on Parkinson’s Disease Alpha-Synuclein at the University of Pennsylvania”

Last Wednesday, October 7, 2015, Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) hosted their 15th Annual Marian S. Ware Research Retreat. This year, the theme was “Focusing on Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Alpha-synuclein at the University of Pennsylvania,” which included lectures from thirteen different University of Pennsylvania researchers (listed below) from the Perelman School of Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who are working on this protein and its role in PD.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 2.14.15 PM

With over 150 guests and 26 posters, the day-long event was yet another success. The posters covered topics not only related to alpha-synuclein and PD, but a variety of other ongoing clinical and basic research studies on PD and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As usual, prizes were awarded to the top three posters.

1st Place Poster Winner

cndrretreat15_1stplaceTitle: Dopamine induces toxic oligomers of a-synuclein leading to neurodegeneration and motor impairment in vivo

Authors: Danielle Mor1,2 (pictured center, with CNDR Director, Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD [left] and Director of CNDR Drug Discovery, Kurt Brunden, PhD[right]); Elpida Tsika3; Joseph R. Mazzulli4; Jennifer Grossman5; John H. Wolfe2,6,7; Harry Ischiropoulos1,2,7

Affiliations: 1 Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; 2 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute; 3 Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; 4 Department of Neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; 5 Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University, New York, NY; 6 Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine; 7 Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

2nd Place Poster Winner

cndrretreat15_2ndplaceTitle: The Super Elongation Complex (SEC) modulates TDP-43 and G4C2 hexanucleotide repeat toxicity in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease models

Authors: Chia-Yu Chung (pictured), Nancy Bonini

Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania

 

 


3rd Place Poster Winner

cndrretreat15_3rdplaceTitle: Can drug-induced Parkinsonism reveal pre-motor Parkinson disease?

Authors: James F. Morley (pictured), Gang Cheng, Jacob G. Dubroff, Jayne R. Wilkinson, John E. Duda

Affiliations: PADRECC and Nuclear Medicine, PVAMC.  Departments of Neurology and Radiology PSOM

 

 

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For more information on Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, visit: www.med.upenn.edu/cndr

Penn Study Links Protein with Spread and Cell Death in Parkinson’s Disease

The latest study, coming out of Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, published in the latest issue of Science, is garnering attention from scientists, advocacy groups and news outlets alike.

From the Penn Medicine press release:

In short, the Penn researchers found that, in healthy mice, a single injection of synthetic, misfolded α-Syn fibrils led to a cell-to-cell transmission of pathologic α-Syn proteins and the formation of Parkinson’s α-Syn clumps known as Lewy bodies in interconnected regions of the brain. Their findings appear in this week’s issue of Science. The team was led by senior author Virginia M.-Y Lee, PhD, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and first author Kelvin C. Luk, PhD, research assistant professor in the CNDR.

The major significance of the paper is that it resolves the long-standing controversy about the role of α-Syn Lewy bodies in the degeneration of substantia nigra dopamine neurons, thereby sharpening the focus on Lewy bodies as targets for discovery of disease modifying therapy for Parkinson patients.

Drs. Lee and Luk help explain the study here, in this video:

News outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Scientist, Nature, Scientific American, Discover and Bloomberg, as well as the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s FoxFeed blog are also sharing the news.

As the Penn Medicine press release notes, “The team is now working on an antibody therapy in these mouse models to stop propagation of rogue misfolded α-Syn. What’s more, both the cell culture and the mouse models will facilitate the identification of novel targets for PD therapy.”

We’ll post updates to any additional coverage here. Stay tuned!