Key Takeaways from 2023 International Congress for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders
Research has shown that different regions of the world are likely to have different genes which could indicate a likelihood of people developing Parkinson’s Disease. There are many misconceptions around the progression of Parkinson’s Disease which, in part, is driven by different genes being activated. For example, those with activation of the GBA1-PD gene are likely to have severe disease and poorer survival rates even though they might have early presentation. These findings will have profound implications on clinical trial design as a drug that works in one part of the world might not in another (i.e., if different genes are being activated).

During the conference there were also several discussions around the best pharmacological treatment options – for many years levodopa, in an oral formulation, has been thought to be the standard of care, but physicians are now questioning if a continuous supply (e.g., through Pump Therapy) or in combination with dopamine agonists might be more efficacious. This highlights the level of unknowns that are still associated with optimal treatment. Technology can also go someway to support with non-pharmacological treatments – for example, BrainSense technology could help physicians better target areas of the brain during deep brain stimulation.

Healthcare structures across the world are not well-equipped to deal with the increased prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease. The World Health Organization recommends countries should have 1 neurologist per 100,000, but in Africa, South East Asia and other low-middle income countries this figure is <1 per 100,000. Reduced access to pharmacological treatments also contributes to global challenges (e.g., even when levodopa is available in Africa it is in reduced doses).

Why is this important?
The burden of Parkinson’s Disease is expected to double in the next two decades and this condition is already a large contributor to disability and/or death worldwide. However, this increase is likely an underestimation due to imperfect epidemiological data across large portions of the world (e.g., Central Asia, Central Latin America, Tropical Latin America and Central / Southern Sub-Saharan Africa). There is a lack of research and adequate information to potentially identify which genes are more/ less activate in some regions. Furthermore, with the growing prevalence of the disease healthcare structures need to be ready, but in some regions a lack of investment and/or HCP interest in neurological careers threatens the ability for patients to be effectively treated.  Without concrete data and a well-established healthcare structures, there are increased unknowns associated with the future treatment of Parkinson’s Disease (e.g., for drug discovery and patients accessing treatment).

If you’d like to find out more about HRW Synapse‘s work in the Parkinson’s space, please reach out to the team at hrw_synapse@hrwhealthcare.com

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