Actor Michael J. Fox states that he wishes to have no more surgeries for his Parkinson’s Disease until doctors can assure him that the deep brain stimulation will be more than a “mechanical stopgap” in the progression of his disease. At the same time, he acknowledges how the surgery has been extremely life-changing for so many other individuals with Parkinson’s that it often offers many of them a turnaround in their illness.
In an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for CNN, Fox revealed that he was not so fortunate to have that turnaround. Shortly after having the surgery to correct the tremors on the left side of his body, the right side of his body started showing symptoms. Rather than go back in for more surgery, he chose to wait for research to get to a point where it will be curative. Until such a time, he is controlling the tremors and frozen facial muscles with cutting-edge medications that come with their own side-effects, such as those involuntary dyskinesia movements for which he’s become known.
“It’s about being comfortable and me functioning on a day-to-day basis,” Fox told Gupta. He has been living with Parkinson’s for the last 20 years and is very happy where he is in his life today and with what he’s able to accomplish.
At the same time, he is not sitting idly by, waiting for the results to come to him. He is putting his foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, to work through a landmark clinical study to identify all of the biomarkers of Parkinson’s Disease. The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is so important that Fox is putting the $200 million his foundation has raised into the study.
PPMI will use a combination of advanced imaging, biologics sampling (blood, urine, spinal fluid) and behavioral assessments to track down the underlying mechanisms of the disease, with the great hope of having the findings lead to critical breakthroughs in new Parkinson’s therapies and solutions. The five-year study will involve 18 research locations in the U.S. and Europe and enrollment in currently open. They are in the process of recruiting 400 newly diagnosed Parkinson’s participants and another 200 who do not have the disease, with the expectation of having all participants and research locations up and running by the close of 2010.
For more information regarding the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, click the banner below or call (877) 525-PPMI.
To see Dr. Sanjay Gupta‘s conversation with Michael J. Fox, watch the short clips below or visit Dr. Gupta’s blog about the interview.