Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that severely affects movement and coordination. More than 1 million Americans are currently suffering from PD, and it is estimated that nearly 60,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year alone. This disorder most commonly occurs in people age 60 and older; however, those with specific inherited genetic mutations linked to PD (referred to as familial PD) can experience symptoms in their 40s or even earlier.
PD causes a variety of motor symptoms including tremors, muscle stiffness, postural instability and others. The disease also causes a range of non-motor symptoms that include, but are not limited to, cognitive impairment, mood disorders and gastrointestinal issues. There are a litany of challenges associated with identifying, understanding and treating PD. It is currently unclear what causes PD. In addition, diagnosing the disease is a challenge because definitive diagnosis requires autopsy. Finally, and most importantly, there is no cure.
While current treatments help to manage symptoms, they do not modify the disease to slow or halt its progression. With longer life expectancies and an aging population, the societal burden of PD is enormous and is only expected to increase. Consequently there is an urgent need to accelerate PD research progress to identify novel treatments that can modify the disease rather than just manage symptoms.
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