“Genetics loads the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger” J. William Langston, M.D.

A common question that is often asked has to do with what causes Parkinson’s Disease. As of yet, no one knows the answer, but some progress is being made as a result of an NIH-funded study, that has its coordinating center at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington. It has designated sites across the country which allow for involvement from families that live in different parts of the country.

The PaGeR study is ongoing and needs the involvement from an exclusive subset of the PD community.

Having one member of the family living with PD is a life-changing event, but having two or more of our loved ones living with PD is something beyond what we can imagine. This exclusive group within our PD community, those having multiple family members diagnosed with PD can possibly have the greatest impact in research, as we know it, because of the wealth of information at the researchers’ fingertips as a result of their participation.

Is the cause genetic? Is it environmental? Perhaps it will show both as Dr. Langston suggests, but what causes the genetic predisposition could finally be known.

Since more genetic links are being discovered, it is imperative that these families with multiple members having a PD diagnosis get involved to help push research to a new level. I keep saying that new therapies and a cure can’t be found without us as equal partners in the research process and the PaGeR study is the best example of this. Several study participants have expressed gratitude to the staff of this study for the way they are treated with courtesy and respect, and appreciated for their participation and making a difference.

Previous methods of PD research amounted to what I would call the ‘shotgun blast’ method. This amounted to tossing around the ideas as to what caused PD and then trying to find a correlation. Unfortunately, this approach that has long been used in PD research has not proven as successful as we in the PD community would expect. Different approaches are being undertaken in research that are proving to be successful, and researchers focusing their efforts on genetics are leading the way.

In my opinion, the PaGeR study is one that has the most potential to bring answers of use to the PD community.

For more information on how to get involved, please call Erica Martinez (toll-free) 855-646-4221.


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