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Spring-Summer 2002
Vol. 64, No. 3

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Karl Kieburtz, professor of neurology, has been named to lead a study of 3,000 patients around the country who have Parkinson's disease, the largest effort yet undertaken to find a way to slow the progression of the neurological disease.

Funded with about $6.5 million from the National Institutes of Health, the study is set to begin late this year or in 2003.

Kieburtz will coordinate doctors who will track the health of patients at 42 sites around North America over five years.

About 1 million adults in North America have Parkinson's, a degenerative brain disease characterized by slowness of movement, difficulty walking and swallowing, muscle stiffness, tremors, and rigidity.

Currently doctors use a range of medications to treat the symptoms, but there is no way to slow or prevent the death of brain cells that is at the heart
of the disease.

"There is not a lot out there at this point to protect patients from further damage," says Kieburtz. "We have several candidates, but thus far none has been shown to slow the disease."

In similar studies bringing together doctors and patients around the country, Medical Center physicians recently led a team that found that a skin patch under development to treat Parkinson's disease appears as effective as traditional oral medications. Last year, doctors led another international team that showed that doctors now have a choice of treatments for newly diagnosed patients.

The research is being done through the Department of Neurology's Clinical Trials Coordination Center, which is directed by Kieburtz.

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