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When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast: Empowering people with Parkinson’s

Larry Gifford on stage at the Parkinson IQ + You event in Atlanta, Ga.
Larry Gifford on stage at the Parkinson IQ + You event in Atlanta, Ga. Larry Gifford

This is a special bonus episode of the When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast that we are calling Extra Dosage. Full episodes of Season 2 are available every other Wednesday. Feel free to write to us at parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca.  

On this Extra Dosage episode of When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, we take you to the first in a series of events presented by the Michael J. Fox Foundation called Parkinson’s IQ + You.

On Sept. 14, hundreds of people gathered in Atlanta, Ga., to learn how to take control of their health care, build their care team and advocate for themselves. Leading scientists, researchers and neurologists also shared the latest information on exciting research being conducted on Parkinson’s disease.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — The elephant in the bedroom

Dr. Malu Tansey, professor of neuroscience and neurology at the University of Florida, helped to explain the role stress plays in Parkinson’s. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, there is consensus among researchers that stress-induced inflammation can be linked to the event or episodes that initiate Parkinson’s disease in an individual.

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“Stress is a bad player. Stress tends to immunosuppress you. Stress tends to create a situation in your body where all the normal pathways in your body are basically slowing down, and they become sluggish,” Tansey explained.

Tansey also touched on the way in which alpha-synuclein, a protein found in the brain, impacts Parkinson’s. In people with Parkinson’s, alpha-synuclein misfolds into toxic forms. Misfolded proteins are sticky and aggregate into clumps that damage and kill dopamine-producing brain cells.

“We think even removal of alpha-synuclein and other toxic species from your brain is critical, and stress really dampens those down,” Tansey added.

READ MORE: When Life Gives You Parkinson’s podcast — Slave to the pill

Dr. David Standaert, chair of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is excited about all the research going into stopping Parkinson’s in its tracks. He says there are a number of different ideas out there, including treatments around alpha-synuclein.

According to Standaert, there are a couple of big clinical trials using antibodies to remove alpha-synuclein from the brain. He’s not certain whether these trials will work or not, but researchers are going to find out because they are currently underway.

“I’ve asked [most of my patients] this question: ‘If I could tell you that I can’t fix your problems but they won’t get any worse, would you be happy?’ And they’d all be happy with that,” Standaert said.

If you live in the United States, the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s IQ + You series is ongoing, and I hope to see you there soon! These daylong, empowering educational events for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners are free. See the full schedule and register for free here.

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Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 — Anaheim, Calif.

Saturday, Jan. 11, 2019 — Phoenix, Ariz.

Other sites recently announced include south Florida; Chicago, Ill.; Oakland, Calif.; and Houston, Texas.

If you have a comment or question about the podcast, you can email us: parkinsonspod@curiouscast.ca

We invite you to add your voice to the show and leave a message for us here.

Follow me, Larry Gifford

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod

Facebook: Facebook.com/ParkinsonsPod

Instagram: @parkinsonspod

Follow co-host and producer Niki Reitmayer

Twitter: @Niki_Reitmayer

 Special thanks to…

Todd Sherrer, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Dr. Malu Tansey, professor of Neuroscience and neurology at the University of Florida

Dr. David Standaert, chair of neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Michael Fitts, Michael J. Fox Patient Council

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Dr. Stewart Factor, movement disorder specialist, professor of neurology at Emory University and program director at movement disorders

Drew Burke, person with Parkinson’s

Ellen Bookman, person with Parkinson’s. Follow her blog.  

For more information on our presenting partner, Parkinson Canada, head to http://www.parkinson.ca/, call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-565-3000 or follow Parkinson Canada on Twitter @ParkinsonCanada.

Thanks to our content and promotional partners as well:

Parkinson’s IQ + You — A free series of Parkinson’s events from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Spotlight YOPD — The only Parkinson’s organization dedicated to raising awareness around young-onset Parkinson’s disease

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  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.