Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha said, “every challenge you encounter in life is a fork in the road. You have the choice to choose which way to go: backward, forward, breakdown or breakthrough.” Since the publication of Parkinson’s Treatment 10 Secrets to a Happier Life with Parkinson’s Disease, the most common question we have received from patients is what are and what will be the next breakthrough therapies for Parkinson’s disease. A breakthrough is defined as a sudden increase in knowledge, improvement in technique, or fundamental advancement in understanding. Often breakthroughs occur when a formidable obstacle is penetrated. Breakthroughs are heralded as major achievements and they pave the road to meaningful progress in any disease. I have spent my entire professional career focused on Parkinson’s and related diseases. I have been blessed to spend much of my time taking care of patients, and I have evolved to understand the critical need for all those suffering to have access to information on breakthrough therapies. The point that I emphasize with my patients is that breakthrough ideas and therapies in Parkinson’s disease stretch far beyond a single drug or stem cell. There is, in fact, a broader and more exciting picture and portfolio of breakthroughs spanning drug, cell, vaccine, device, genetics, care, and behavior. Patients and families with personal investments in Parkinson’s disease should be informed and updated about all of the potential breakthrough therapies.
So, “what will be the next breakthrough therapy?” Because of the complexity of the disease, each person possesses a different combination of bothersome symptoms. This complexity means that the answer to the next breakthrough therapy will vary patient to patient, and it could be a breakthrough in care as well as possibly a new device or drug. At the Parkinson's Foundation, we have been monitoring the breakthroughs in the field. We run the free international Ask the Doctor web-based forum, and the questions posted have helped us to keep an accurate pulse on the field. Additionally, our blog called “What’s Hot in Parkinson’s Disease” as well as guest columns as the associate editor for the New England Journal of Medicine’s Journal Watch have provided the material, insight and inspiration for a new book; 10 Breakthrough Therapies in Parkinson’s Disease. Collectively, these experiences have provided focus for the topics in this book and in some cases the actual physical material. Several chapters include topics I have covered before, and in these cases I have added and updated information. The current book is an effort to provide a comprehensive review of the most important breakthrough therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, these topics overlap with the most asked questions by patients and caregivers.
The unexpected runaway success of my first book, “Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life,” has provided hundreds of messages and an ocean of feedback from patients, families and researchers. The majority of comments I received on the first book were focused on the need to understand breakthrough therapies and approaches. My desire is that this book will fill a knowledge gap and will provide hope and valuable knowledge to those in the Parkinson’s disease community.
Here are some of the topics that will be covered in the 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson’s Disease book released September 1, 2015:
- Disease Modifying Drugs and Biomarkers
- Coffee, Tea, Exercise, Interdisciplinary Teams and Caregivers
- Extended Release/Novel Delivery Systems for Parkinson’s Disease Drug and When to Start Drug Therapy
- Marijuana and Synthetic Cannabinoids
- New Drugs for Hallucinations, Sleep, Constipation and Dizziness
- Therapies While Hospitalized and Avoiding Hospitalization
- Advancing Deep Brain Stimulation Technology, Earlier Intervention and Dopamine Pumps
- Stem Cells and Stem Cell Tourism
- Prions, Spreading Proteins, Vaccines and Growth Factors
- The Drug Development Pipeline
You can find out more about our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, by also visiting the Center of Excellence, University of Florida Health Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. Dr. Okun is also the author of the Amazon #1 Parkinson's Best Seller 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease.