The announcement was made this morning at the Parkinson's Institute, in Sunnyvale, Calif., where one of the centers will be located. The other centers will be at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., and the University of California at Los Angeles.
NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., said in announcing the new funding, "Our best chance for finding successful treatments for persons suffering with Parkinson's disease is to understand more about what triggers the disease. Even better, this research may lead to ways to prevent Parkinson's disease in the first place."
A progressive disorder characterized by muscular rigidity and tremors, slow movement and impaired balance and coordination, Parkinson's disease affects between 1 and 1.5 million people in the U.S., with 50,000 new cases reported each year, NIH estimates.
Recent findings suggest that Parkinson's may result from a combination of a person's exposure to harmful environmental agents and the person's inherited susceptibility. The disease is marked by the death of cells in the brain that produce and release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Current drug therapies, which attempt to replace the lost dopamine, can relieve some symptoms but do not cure or slow the disease.
The directors of the new centers, the leadership of national patient advocacy groups and representatives of the California Congressional delegation were invited to participate in today's announcement and stay for a light lunch and an afternoon discussion of current research. [Reporters are also invited to remain after the announcement for lunch and the scientific reports.]
The three new centers w
Contact: Tom Hawkins
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences