World Parkinson's Day was on the 11th April 2015, giving people a chance to Pause4Parkinson's and recognise the effect Parkinson's disease is having on the nation. Earlier this month, PlantMiner attended Shake It Up's Pause4Parkinson's event which was hosted by Labour Solutions Australia. Not only was the event extremely valuable and inspiring, it was a great chance to gain a deeper understanding of Parkinson's disease and discover ways in which we can all contribute in helping find a cure.
About Shake It Up
Shake It Up Australia Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2011 to promote and fund Parkinson’s disease research in Australia. The Foundation was established by Clyde Campbell, a father of three and business owner who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009 at the age of 44.
Their mission is clear; to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Shake It Up is pursuing this goal by funding world leading research in partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. This collaboration instills a confidence to all Shake It Up supporters that the research they are funding is internationally competitive, strategic and non-redundant.
Another unique aspect of Shake It Up is the fact that the Founding Directors, Clyde and Greg Campbell personally fund all of the Foundation’s operating and administrative costs. This means that 100% of every dollar donated goes to funding leading Parkinson’s research.
Since establishment in 2011, Shake It Up has committed in excess of $1.8M to 14 Parkinson’s research projects at 7 separate research institutes around Australia.
About Parkinson's disease
Many Australians are unaware of prevalence and indiscriminate nature of Parkinson’s. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s disease with an additional 30 people diagnosed every day. A statistic which surprises many is that 20% of those diagnosed are under 50 and 10% are under 40 years old.
Many people also associate the disease with ‘just having the shakes’ and while tremors are a possible symptom of Parkinson’s other symptoms can include:
- Rigidity and Slowness of movement, or bradykinesia
- Reduced facial expression
- Cognitive impairment, ranging from mild memory difficulties to dementia
- Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety
- Sleep difficulties, such as REM Sleep Disorder
An example of the research being funded
As yet, scientists have been unable to identify biomarkers for Parkinson’s which makes early diagnosis and the monitoring of disease progression difficult. However, Shake It Up is funding the Australian arm of an international study which seeks to address this.
The Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) is an observational research study to identify biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease (PD) progression, led by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
A biomarker is a substance or characteristic in our bodies that is associated with the presence of disease, or that changes over time in a way that can be linked to the progression of disease. An observational study means that study participants undergo numerous tests and assessments of bodily processes related to Parkinson’s, but do not receive an experimental drug or treatment. The study uses a combination of imaging techniques, collection of blood, urine, and spinal fluid, and clinical tests.
The information gathered from these procedures is critical to early diagnosis and the future development of new and better treatments for Parkinson’s disease. PPMI is the first clinical study to assemble a population of sufficient size to collect this information, draw meaningful scientific conclusions over time, and try to develop better ways diagnose and measure the progression of Parkinson’s.
It has been shown that some people who lose their sense of smell or who have REM sleep disorders go on to develop Parkinson’s. By establishing biomarkers, these people may be more easily diagnosed and start treatment prior to symptoms developing, potentially slowing the progression of the disease.
The five year study is currently running at 24 sites throughout 14 countries. Shake It Up’s partnership with The Michael J. Fox Foundation was central to a site being established in Australia.
To learn more about Shake It Up or to get involved, you can visit their website here