The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) undertakes basic biomedical research, primarily in laboratory settings, to learn how the human body operates on all levels. Our discoveries are often licensed to biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms for further development toward a drug or treatment. As a biomedical research institute, we do not see patients and rarely conduct clinical trials; for the latest information on clinical trials throughout the United States, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov. For information on specific diseases, search for associations or organizations dedicated to the disease, for example, the American Parkinson Disease Association or the National Parkinson Foundation.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a slowly progressive disorder of the brain that affects movement, muscle control, and balance. Symptoms include shaking (tremor) and difficulty with walking.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States, second only to Alzheimer’s disease. The average age of diagnosis is near 60; onset before age 40 years is relatively uncommon, but the diagnosis of actor Michael J. Fox indicates younger people are also vulnerable. According to the National Parkinson Foundation, 50,000 to 60,000 new cases of PD are diagnosed every year in the United States and more than 1 million Americans currently suffer from the disease.
PD usually begins around age 60, but it can start earlier. Some research indicates men may face greater risks of developing PD than women. Older women seem to be more at risk for gait disturbance and men for rigidity and tremor. People with siblings or parents who developed Parkinson’s at a younger age are at higher risk for PD. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, scientists suspect that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause the disease in most of its sufferers. African- and Asian-Americans appear to have a lower risk than European-Americans. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. A variety of medicines sometimes help symptoms dramatically.