Archives: 2014

Funding Basic Science to Revolutionize Medicine: The Winning Video

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) announced the winners of its second annual Stand Up for Science Video Competition, in which contestants were asked to submit a short video demonstrating the importance of the federal government’s investment in biomedical and biological science. The winning video, “Funding Basic Science to Revolutionize Medicine,” was created by six graduate students (Florie Charles, Nir Oksenberg, Marta Wegorzewska, Osama Ahmed, Argenta Price, and Christin Chong) from the University of California, San Francisco. The video illustrated the impact funding basic science has had on improving health and spurring subsequent medical discoveries.

About the concept behind the video, Osama Ahmed said “We wanted the public to know that basic scientific findings, which are spurred by curiosity, sometimes lead to a large number of unexpected human health improvements and the development of new technologies,” he said. “We also wanted to teach people that the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health are government institutions that use taxpayer dollars to fund basic research, and that these institutions need strong public support to continue to do so.”

Early-Onset Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Genetic Deletion

Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and University Health Network (UHN) have found a new link between early-onset Parkinson’s disease and a piece of DNA missing from chromosome 22. The findings help shed new light on the molecular changes that lead to Parkinson’s disease.

Bee Venom, a Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?

Sometimes, the advances can be made through the most unlikely discoveries. A clinical observation has put researchers on the trail of a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Injecting bee venom seems to hold back the slow and progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. The study presents the first results of this technique and brings new hope to the fight against this neurodegenerative disorder.

The idea of using bee venom came from a clinical observation. “A patient who was a beekeeper, and also affected by Parkinson’s disease, was treated with monthly bee venom injections to become desensitized.  The symptoms related to his disease regressed with time. He took fewer medications and felt better. This has intrigued us, and we even started to film the patient to try to understand this phenomenon,” explains Andreas Hartmann. Following this astonishing observation, studies have focused on bee venom and more specifically, on apamin, one of its active components. It regulates certain functions that seem to have a significant impact on the survival of dopaminergic neurons.

Parkinson’s Drugs Linked to Sex and Gambling Addictions

Pathological gambling, hypersexuality and compulsive shopping are some of the abnormal behaviours that are linked to the use of certain drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

In our view, these medications should be used less frequently and with great caution, paying close attention to possible negative effects on behaviour and impulse control.

QPN: Meet Our New Director

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Edward Fon as the new director of the Quebec Parkinson Network. Dr. Edward Fon is a neurologist and scientist who serves as the director of the McGill Parkinson Program, a National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence. With experience as the co-director of the QPN, Dr Fon will perfectly fulfill his new role as director and will surely contribute to the Network’s success. Congratulations Dr. Edward Fon!

Yogurt and the Brain: You May Be Able to Protect Your Neurons With a Tasty Snack

Inactivation of the DJ-1 gene results in mitochondrial dysfunction (left), which can be restored by glycolate or D-lactate (right). Active mitochondria are shown in red, DNA is shown in blue

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics proved that adding D-lactate or glycolate to affected cells restored the activity of the mitochondria and prevented the degeneration of neurons, thus ensuring their survival. The authors showed that affected cells were recovered after the addition of these two substances. Researchers believe that the DJ-1products could have a general role in protecting cells from decline. As Kurzchalia says «we can develop yoghurt enriched with D-lactate: It could serve as a protection against Parkinson’s and is actually very tasty at the same time! ». Because glycolic and D-lactic acids occur naturally (in unripe fruits and certain kinds of yoghurt), they are therefore a potential therapeutic route for treatment or prevention of Parkinson’s disease.

Welcome to the Two New Members of the Quebec Parkinson Network’s Staff

The Quebec Parkinson Network is proud to welcome Imen Ben Hmida and Caroline Tremblay to our team.

Ms. Ben Hmida will assume the position of Assistant Coordinator of the network in Montreal. She will recruit potential participants as well as the manage the large amounts of data that will be contained in our various databases.

Caroline Tremblay will be working 2 days per week to recruit potential participants in Quebec City. As a nurse, she will also be able to collect samples for genetic analyzes.

We welcome both of them and are confident that they will contribute greatly to the future success of the Network.

Oury Monchi, QPN director

Edward Fon, QPN co-director

Clotilde Degroot, QPN coordinator