/ by UK HealthCare
Each October, a team of doctors, nurses and staff from Kentucky Neuroscience Institute run The Bourbon Chase, a 200-mile relay that takes runners on a journey through horse country and the state’s historical bourbon distilleries.
This year the KNI team is dedicating its race to supporting research focused on Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is often difficult to treat because it’s often difficult to predict. That means that by the time many people begin showing signs of Parkinson’s, including tremor or slowed walking, there has already been a good deal of damage to the cells in the brain. Even though many new therapies are being tested, early intervention will have the best chance of helping to slow the disease before it progresses too far.
In collaboration with UK’s Brain Restoration Center, Dr. Tritia Yamasaki’s lab studies how to discover Parkinson’s earlier by looking for new biomarkers, which are indicators found in blood, body fluids or tissue that can be used to detect the disease and help with diagnosis or assess progression.
“I am fortunate to also be able to see patients in clinic as they are really the driving force behind what I do research-wise,” said Yamasaki. “We do our best to utilize the treatments we currently have to help the symptoms of Parkinson’s and related diseases, but what we desperately need is a way to modify the disease so it doesn’t progress, progresses more slowly, or even better, prevent it in the first place. Finding a way to detect these diseases at early stages and also accurately diagnose them will be a key step toward finding an effective therapy.”
One protein the lab is studying is alpha-synuclein, which builds up abnormally within neurons and spreads from cell to cell in Parkinson’s disease. The lab is exploring the underlying differences in the accumulation of this protein in order to develop a method to distinguish Parkinson’s disease from other diseases. This will help provide a more accurate diagnosis for patients.
In order to make advances in this field, the lab is fortunate to have very involved patients who are willing to donate their time and fluid and tissue samples to make this research a reality. The lab is in the process of banking samples from many patients. These samples will be used to explore possible biomarkers and to advance research in Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative conditions.
The funds raised from this year's Bourbon Chase will help purchase crucial lab supplies, equipment and provide support for a tissue bank which will be used to discover new markers for diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative conditions.
You can support this cause on the Bourbon Chase Fund page.