Hi everyone, thanks for your posts. I've spoken to Arthur Roach, who is our new research director and he's asked me to pass on the following message:
"Hello – I am Arthur Roach, the new Director of Research and Development at Parkinson’s UK. This is my first post on this forum. I am very sorry to hear how disappointing the search for a cure is to you, and I know to many others as well. I do not see the kind of breakthrough you are talking about coming very soon unfortunately, but rather a steady improvement in the way we can use existing drugs to manage the condition. I could write pages more but I will limit myself to the overview here.
The progress that the field is making at this time is truly exciting and this is leading to the exploration of many new approaches to treatment, but as you have heard many times it takes many years (often ten or more) to turn a scientific discovery into a new treatment. What you perhaps do not see is that there are thousands of scientists working with the support of hundreds of millions of pounds every year, from dozens of agencies and organisations including Parkinson's UK, to turn these discoveries into treatments. Even though the great majority of discoveries will not in the end become treatments, we unfortunately cannot predict the winners without a great deal of work. I know that in this area more than any, it is in the end results that count, not efforts. But we do need to make those efforts and many people are working hard, and many people are providing a lot of funding, to make that happen. The very effective treatments that we have today, starting with levodopa/L-Dopa, were themselves the result of years of work (with many blind alleys along the way).
Today we are testing the growth factor GDNF in a trial that itself is built on things learned in earlier studies. This has the potential to change the disease course, and we are all eager to see the trial succeed. It is not easy to administer and may not be suitable for everyone, but this is what we will learn from this and future trials. We are looking into how to save years by finding out if some older drugs already in use could be effective in Parkinson's, and there is a new idea that it could be possible to stop the disease process early with an antibody working before the brain is affected.
Today Parkinson's has some of the most effective symptomatic treatments of any neurodegenerative disease. We know these are not enough and great efforts are being made to bring new and powerful treatments. We all wish the success were earlier, but I truly do believe it will come.
I hope Arthur's comments are helpful. Just to note - we'd be very happy to pick this discussion up again in the New Year and don't forget that you can email [email protected] if you'd like to raise anything directly with our Research team.
Some potentially useful links relating to Arthur's message above: