National Parkinson Foundation Research Awards

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) has awarded more than $1 million dollars in clinical research projects in 2011 for three key areas of Parkinson’s disease research, including an advanced biomarker study, a clinical trial to treat memory impairment, and a study of the effectiveness of a treatment for sleep apnea in PD.

Under the direction of the Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board (CSAB), NPF supports research conducted by the top neurological experts at its 43 Centers of Excellence worldwide. These research awards will support three novel clinical investigations at Centers of Excellence in the United States and Canada.

NPF funded the following two-year clinical research grants:

MRI Biomarkers for Motor and Non-Motor Manifestations of Parkinson’s Disease. To examine Parkinson’s disease patients to measure the shapes of deep structures in the brain in an effort to develop a biomarker for Parkinson’s. This new technique combines advances in computing power with established (and inexpensive) imaging techniques to provide greater insight.

Sleep Disordered Breathing and its Impact on Cognitive Performance and Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease.Poor sleep affects the quality of life for people with PD, and it is also possible that it may contribute to decreased cognition. This study will evaluate the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and test the effectiveness of a common SDB treatment in people with Parkinson’s.

Sleep and Learn with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in Parkinson’s Disease.
Motor learning involves practicing a task followed by forming a habit—a short-cut in the brain to do a complex motion. This study will investigate this process and how it is affected by PD in people with PD and then attempt to improve motor learning by stimulating neurons using TMS.  TMS therapy has been shown to activate neurons in the brain and can be targeted to those associated with motor learning.

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Competitiveness in the Medical Technology Arena

Stephen J. Ubl, CEO of Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), recently said that America’s role as world leader in medical technology is being challenged and that the certain public policies need to be put in place to “to provide a level playing field between the U.S. and foreign competitors.”

There is growing concern that other nations are catching up to the U.S. in this medical technology arena, and a recent PwC Innovation Scorecard showed that other developed nations are closing the gap with the U.S. On a scale of 1 to 9 the U.S. scores 7.1. while the UK, Germany, Japan and France are moving up, and fall within the 4.8 to 5.4 range. Of those nations in the study, Germany and the UK demonstrate the strongest support for innovation.

“The medical technology field in the U.S. has long benefited from a confluence of social, technical, political and economic forces that came together to create an ecosystem which fosters medical technology innovation,” said Michael Swanick, U.S. Pharmaceuticals, Medical Device and Life Sciences industry leader, PwC.

Swanick said that the balance is beginning to shift with changes in global economic dynamics, governmental policies and the actions of individual companies and entrepreneurs.  Those who are positioned to adapt to new modes of innovation will find opportunities in this space.

AdvaMed released a “Competitiveness Agenda” with specific policy recommendations:

  • Innovation in the life sciences must be a government priority, including requiring an innovation impact statement for significant new regulations that affect the health sector.
  • The FDA review process must be reformed to reduce total review times. American patients should have as prompt access to new treatments as do European patients.
  • Payment policies of Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers must support medical innovation and not penalize early adopters of new treatments and cures.
  • A vigorous trade policy must support export growth and provide a level playing field for U.S.-based manufacturing.
  • Strategic tax policies to level the playing field must be implemented, including improvements to the R&D tax credit to keep it competitive with other countries.
  • The American research and development infrastructure must be sustained and improved. Special emphasis should be placed on creating research structures that support commercialization of the R&D.

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