The Future of Genetic Approaches, New Targets in Parkinson Disease: James Beck, PhD


The senior vice president and chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation discussed the potential for new therapies that target genetically mutated forms of Parkinson disease. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"Ultimately, if someone has a genetic form of Parkinson, you can clearly point to what went wrong in this person’s body, and that it’s contributing to their disease. It makes it a much easier job to solve than it would be for someone with idiopathic Parkinson, where we don’t know why they developed the disease."

Although there is no cure for Parkinson disease (PD), there are medications that can help control the symptoms. In some more advanced cases, surgery may be recommended. Carbidopa-levodopa, a therapy that has been around for decades, is considered the most effective PD medication; however, as the disease progresses, the benefit of this approach can lessen. There are other types of therapeutic approaches, including use of dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, adenosine receptor antagonists, and pimavanserin (Nuplazid; Acadia), a drug used to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with the disease.

Around 90% of patients with PD have no known genetic link, and thus their children will likely never develop the disease. In a small number of people, PD is inherited and can affect multiple family members. Currently, there are several ongoing trials assessing agents designed to target specific genetic mutations of the disease, with the hope that one day, the field will see its first gene therapy. Recently, NeurologyLive® sat down with James Beck, PhD, senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation, to discuss the progress made in treatments for PD, and the promise behind potential gene therapies in the coming years.

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