NIH Drafts Parkinson's Research Strategy

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) held a conference entitled “Parkinson’s Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives” on Jan. 6 and 7, 2014 at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD to present draft research strategies for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The prior research strategy for Parkinson’s disease was developed in 2006 through a similar NINDS meeting.

NINDS Director Dr. Story Landis opened by providing an overview of the work that went into preparing the draft recommendations. Committees including researchers from academia, industry, voluntary health organizations and NINDS staff met for months in advance to formulate recommendations for basic, translational and clinical research.

Presenters reviewed 33 draft recommendations at the meeting with a focus on identifying the causes of Parkinson’s disease, developing better treatments, and ultimately finding a cure. Questions and comments were invited from the research community, who attended both in person and via a live webcast.

The clinical research top priorities were:

  1. Proof-of-concept prevention trials for those at high risk for PD
  2. More fully understanding the natural history of PD, including its earliest warning symptoms and subtypes
  3. Longitudinal studies to characterize the progression of PD and to develop biomarkers and disease-modifying treatments
  4. Study of non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease, including cognitive impairment.

The proposed strategies did not specifically address dementia in Parkinson’s disease, because a research strategy for Lewy body dementias had already been established in 2013 at a similar meeting also organized by NINDS.

On the second day, members of the Parkinson’s community and related advocacy organization were invited to provide feedback about the research strategies proposed. Angela Taylor, Director of Programs at LBDA, was in attendance and reinforced the importance of studying cognition in Parkinson’s disease and the relationship between all Lewy body disorders and suggested the following:

  • Developing more aggressive clinical guidelines for early screening and treatment of cognitive impairment in PD, not just to improve cognition but also minimize risk of psychosis.
  • Specifying where and how to further define the relationship between Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.
  • Determining how this research strategy can be integrated with the recent strategies for Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s dementias like LBD.

For those who were unable to attend the live event, the recorded webcast is now available for viewing at the links below.

Day One (January 6)
Day Two (January 7)