Tag Archives: parkinson’s disease

New Brain Channel Series on Movement Disorders

8232Moving is something we do without thinking but it’s not as simple as it may seem. Movement is an incredibly complex process that requires different parts of the brain working with muscles and nerves throughout the body. Signals move between the brain and the rest of the body controlling the coordination needed — but sometimes that system breaks down.

When that communication isn’t functioning properly it is referred to as a movement disorder. These neurological syndromes often begin slowly and progress over time. Many have genetics as the common cause. Parkinson’s is perhaps the best known as it affects approximately one million Americans and in most cases is caused by genetic predisposition or exposure to certain drugs and toxins.

The Brain Channel recently completed an eight part series on movement disorders and the amazing research that is happening at UC San Diego to better understand, treat and cope with these often devastating diseases. Join Dr. Bill Mobley, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine, as he welcomes physicians, researchers and clinicians to discuss their work and passion for seeking discoveries to alleviate the suffering associated with these disorders.

Take a few moments to learn what these dedicated researchers are doing by clicking on the videos below.

Parkinson’s Disease: New Developments and Therapies

Parkinson’s and Cognition

Parkinson’s Disease: Environmental Factors and Epidemiology

Huntington’s Disease

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

Brain Imaging and Understanding Movement Disorders

Advancing Research on Neurodegenerative Disease

Tracing the Molecular Roots of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Visit The Brain Channel to watch more programs that explore the brain.


“White Dots” in the Brain Predict Walking Problem

8232Fatta Nahab, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and director of the neuroimaging program at UC San Diego Health’s Movement Disorder Center. Find out how he is using innovative brain imaging techniques to reveal clues in understanding and developing new therapies to treat movement disorders.

He explains about “white dots” in the brain and how they are good predictors for walking problems, and not only in Parkinson’s patients. Walking is one of the most complex systems the brain controls. Many people assume as they get older they will have problems with walking due to arthritis and other factors associated with aging, but that’s not exactly what he found. The brain plays a significant role in walking problems, more so than sore knees.

Medicine is at an exciting time and Dr. Nahab is inspired by his patients to translate research into the clinic, the clinic into research and to bridge the technology gap between medicine and the tech industry

Watch Brain Imaging and Understanding the Pathogenesis of Movement Disorders with Fatta Nahab.


Movement Disorders: New Series on The Brain Channel

8232UC San Diego physicians and researchers are hard at work uncovering the symptoms, secrets, and progression of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. William Mobley, MD, PhD sits down with those on the front lines to find out what we currently know, where research is trending, and what potential therapies are on the horizon in The Brain Channel’s newest series, Movement Disorders.

In Parkinson’s Disease: New Developments and Therapies, Irene Litvan, MD joins Mobley to discuss the latest advances in PD research. Learn about the progression of the disease, early warning signs, and promising new therapies currently in development for the approximately 1 million Americans currently living with the disease.

In Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Dr. Litvan talks about the signs and symptoms of PSP, disease progression, genetic issues, as well as potential treatments. PSP is a condition that affects the brain with symptoms that worsen over time.

Don’t miss these and other programs on The Brain Channel.


Parkinson’s Disease: An Interview with UCSF’s Dr. Michael J. Aminoff

This month, UCTV premieres Parkinson’s Disease: A Dose of Hope, a 30-minute documentary that reveals what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s Disease through heartfelt stories of patients and interviews with leading medical experts.

In this UCTV interview, Parkinson’s disease expert Dr. Michael J. Aminoff, who’s featured in the program, discusses the field of Parkinson’s research, clinical care, and The Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center at UCSF.

UCTV: Why did you decide to focus your professional life on clinical care and research on Parkinson’s disease?

Michael J. Aminoff: Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, disabling disorder that—when I was an intern—had no effective medical treatment. In those early days, to watch patients respond to a newly discovered therapy with levodopa was both inspiring and touching.

UCTV: The Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center at UCSF is described as a comprehensive treatment center. What does that mean and why is it important to take a comprehensive approach?

MJA: Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that affects many parts of the nervous system, and thus the body. In addition to disturbances of movement, characterized by slowness, stiffness, and tremor, the disease may cause postural imbalance, intellectual decline, depression, anxiety, disturbances of bladder and bowel functions, disturbances of sweating and blood pressure control, loss of the sense of smell, and other problems. Thus, a comprehensive approach to its management is mandatory. It includes physical, speech, and occupational therapies as well as cognitive assessment and treatment, urological management, and social support. Some patients will also need neurosurgical treatment. The staff at our center has extensive experience with many of these different aspects and has established referral links to help patients receive the multidisciplinary care that they require.

UCTV: What type of interactions do clinicians treating patients have with the researchers doing studies at the center?

MJA: We have a close interaction with translational and basic scientists. Indeed, one of the functions of our center is to bring to the clinic advances made in the laboratory. For example, Dr. Bankiewicz, in his laboratory, developed a form of gene therapy for animals with an experimentally induced type of parkinsonism, and in collaboration with him, we then tested this in humans with Parkinson’s disease. The encouraging results that we obtained will, we anticipate, lead to further and more extensive studies of this approach. Our physicians and scientists meet regularly to discuss clinical or scientific advances and their implications for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

UCTV: Much of the center’s research involves clinical trials. What is the value of a clinical trial and how can people get involved?

MJA: Clinical trials allow participants to receive otherwise unavailable treatments. The aim is to establish whether a particular treatment is beneficial for patients. It is only too easy for physicians or patients to believe they are being helped by a novel therapy, if only because they want to see a beneficial response. Clinical trials provide an objective means of determining whether benefit occurs to a particular treatment, and usually involve comparing the response to active treatment or placebo. Our web site lists current studies in progress at UCSF, and a national web site lists trials throughout the country.

UCTV: Parkinson’s disease research has made huge advances in recent years. What are some of the most interesting discoveries you have seen?

MJA: I have seen the disease move from being untreatable to one for which a variety of treatments are now available, at least for the movement disorder that is a major feature of the disease. Over my career, I have seen the advent of levodopa, drugs that act like it (dopamine agonists), the development of new surgical techniques such as deep brain stimulation, and now the beginnings of gene therapy. These have been truly exciting times.

UCTV: Where do you see Parkinson’s disease research going in the future?

MJA: I see an extension of gene therapies and eventually the development of stem cell therapies. I expect that therapies to slow or even reverse the disease will be developed (at present, treatments are purely symptomatic, i.e., help the symptoms without affecting the underlying disease process). It may eventually be possible to predict a patient’s response to therapy by their genetic make-up. There is much to look forward to.

UCTV: What do you want viewers of this program to learn about Parkinson’s disease?

MJA: That there is an increasing understanding about the nature and varying manifestations of Parkinson’s disease, and growing expertise in its management.