The Weekly 08.16.2022

Parkinson’s News Updates

Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash
Patients’ Depression Often Carries Over to Care Partners – Parkinson’s News Today

More disability and higher levels of depression in Parkinson’s disease patients predicted an increase in burden and depression of their care partners, such as family and friends, over two years, a study concluded.

The findings underscore the need to monitor the burden of care partners over time.

Treatment targeting disease severity, such as medication management, may ease care partner burden, while interventions aimed at alleviating patient depression could prevent future care partner depression, the researchers noted.

Because care partners for those with Parkinson’s provide care for several years, early intervention may help the emotional well-being of both the patients and their care partners, they added.

The study, “Prospective Predictors of Care Partner Burden and Depression in Parkinson’s disease,” was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

People with Parkinson’s disease face physical and mental disabilities. As a result, they often rely on others for physical, emotional, social, and economic support. This includes informal caregivers, or those without formal training, such as family and friends.

Cross-sectional studies — those conducted at one point in time — suggest higher levels of burden and depression in care partners of Parkinson’s patients.


Yale Scientists Will Use $9M Grant to Create Map of Gut-brain Axis – Parkinson’s News Today

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine will use a $9 million grant to generate a detailed map of the “gut-brain axis,” the complex communication route between brain and belly — focusing on the gut microbiome — that is increasingly thought to play a key role in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The funding is part of $18 million in total grants to Yale scientists from the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s initiative for research into the progressive disorder, which, the nonprofit estimates, affects 7 to 10 million people worldwide. This project will involve the use of novel technologies in the hope of uncovering new treatments for Parkinson’s.

The work is being led by David Hafler, MD, a professor of neurology and immunobiology, and Noah Palm, PhD, a professor of immunobiology, both at Yale School of Medicine. The multidisciplinary team also includes Le Zhang, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology from Hafler’s team, and Rui Chang, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience and cellular and molecular physiology.

The goal, according to Hafler, is to better understand the role of gut immune cells in Parkinson’s disease to help design stronger clinical trials for this patient population.

“Rather than conducting a clinical trial blindly, I want to better understand the nature of the inflammatory insult to better target the immune system,” Hafler said in a university press release.


Brain Training App Useful in Early Parkinson’s Cases: Pilot Study – Parkinson’s News Today

The cognitive exercise smartphone app NeuroNation, which combines personalized tasks and gamification, is useful and feasible for adults with mild Parkinson’s disease, a pilot study concluded.

The researchers noted the app was a success in terms of the patients’ perception of its usability and in achieving cognitive improvements, and may be an effective for providing cognitive rehabilitation at home.

Despite the small sample size and limited patient population, the researchers recommended further studies with larger groups of patients to evaluate changes in cognition.

The pilot study, “Feasibility and usability of a non-immersive virtual reality tele-cognitive app in cognitive rehabilitation of patients affected by Parkinson’s disease,” was published in Psycho-geriatrics.