Happy birthday to Parkinson’s disease

By Pekka Simula 11 April 2017

Dear Parkinson’s disease,

Apr 11, 2017 marks your 200th anniversary. James Parkinson published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” exactly 200 years ago. Named after him, you have long outlived your finder. You continue to prosper and conquer: The aging human population has given you the opportunity to expand further and further. It is currently estimated that you have around 7 million people under your command! That’s quite an army: Way more than the military forces of USA, China, and Russia together.

Though you have caused an immeasurable amount of suffering we must admit you have always been completely fair and equal. You never were a racist. You treated men and women equally, decades before the first countries gave women the right to vote. You couldn’t care less about politics; and there’s no hiding from you with all the wealth in the world. Rich and famous, or the poor nobody – you are not picky selecting your victims.

You even messed with Hollywood celebrity Michael J. Fox, one of my childhood heroes in Back to the Future. Think that was a mistake? He’s really fighting back with the Michael J. Fox Foundation. And he’s not alone.

Or is that just what you wanted, a good fight? I bet those 200 long years without any real resistance from the mankind got you bored. Ok, we came up with tricks like levodopa and Deep Brain Stimulation. You have to admit they were clever ones to significantly improve the quality-of-life of patients. But you probably knew from the start they wouldn’t really change anything. They couldn’t stop disease progression. Did you even know that according to experts, health care systems in the USA could save almost half a million dollars per patient if we found a way to stop progression of Parkinson’s disease?

So you got bored. Here’s what we’ll give you for your 200th birthday: A good fight. Parkinson’s UK and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association started this campaign called Unite for Parkinson’s. Companies and other partners around the world have joined the campaign to increase awareness of you. Yes, you, dear Parkinson’s disease. And that’s not all. In the same spirit many groups around the world are joining forces to fight back for real, harder than ever.

You must feel worn up too after 200 years of total domination. So how about this: We will unite to give you an honorable discharge. We will give you the chance to slowly fade away in the near future, feeling proud for having eventually united so many people from all over the world. Wouldn’t that sound like a decent end to your long story? And we promise we won’t forget about your younger cousin, Alzheimer’s disease.

Herantis develops a novel neuroprotective and neurotrophic factor CDNF aiming at breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The first-in-human clinical study, funded by the European Union, is being implemented in the true spirit of #UniteForParkinsons: The project consortium includes the European Parkinson’s Disease Association EPDA, European universities, university hospitals, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies, all working in close collaboration.

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