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UMN researchers connecting links to sleep issues and Parkinson’s disease

It is estimated that 50-60 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have disordered sleep. Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota is embarking on a study that is looking at the link between abnormal muscle activity during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in people with Parkinson’s disease and how the disease progresses.

MacKinnon’s long term goal of the research is to be able to identify specific REM sleep features that are predictive of disease onset and progression, so clinicians can better diagnose and possibly treat neurological disease well before it manifests.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Yoga could help ease effects of Parkinson’s disease

Yoga might be the go-to activity for many people looking to reduce stress and stay fit, but it’s also the center of a new study hoping to help those with Parkinson’s disease.

Corjena Cheung, assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, has studied the effects of yoga on osteoarthritis for the past five years. Now, she is embarking on a new study to help those with Parkinson’s disease.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant helps speed up research on Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and deep brain stimulation

A six-month Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant provided a collaboration boost between Shalom Michaeli, Ph.D., professor at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota and Olli Gröhn, Ph.D., professor and director of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit and vice director of the A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Science at Kuopio Campus at the University of Eastern Finland.

“During my time in Finland, we made significant progress in establishing MRI biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS),” said Michaeli. “Noninvasive MRI rotating frame relaxation contrasts developed at the CMRR in close collaboration with the Kuopio team are highly sensitive to slow motion, and could probe critically important processes, such as demyelination, and could serve as noninvasive biomarkers for PD and MS.”

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: A new approach to programming deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s

About 100,000 people worldwide undergo deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and tremor  when traditional medications or treatments fail to provide symptom improvement or relief. It is also being explored as a treatment for other neurological and psychiatric disorders for which medical therapy has not been effective in alleviating symptoms.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves stimulating portions of the brain through a small implanted device. After the device is implanted, a clinician programs the device to target each patient’s individual symptoms. They establish settings that determine how much stimulation is needed to improve symptoms, a process called programming.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M, St. Jude Medical partner to tackle Parkinson’s disease, depression

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Inquiry.

University of Minnesota researchers and St. Jude Medical are collaborating to treat some of the most challenging and debilitating movement and neuropsychiatric disorders using deep brain stimulation (DBS), a treatment which uses electrical current to directly stimulate parts of the brain. The project is part of MnDRIVE (Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy), a $36 million biennial investment by the state that aims to solve grand challenges in areas that align with Minnesota’s industries, including discoveries and treatments for brain conditions.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researchers study “freezing of gait” in people with Parkinson’s disease

As part of April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Health Talk is taking a closer look at some current University of Minnesota research projects that will help better understand the disease and what new research can do for future treatment and intervention.

Within the U of M’s Movement Disorders Laboratory, Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Medical School’s Department of Neurology is examining “freezing of gait” – an issue seen in roughly half of all patients with Parkinson’s disease. MacKinnon and fellow researchers are hopeful new research could advance understanding of the issue.

The aforementioned “freezing of gait” is characterized by the episodic or spontaneous inability to start or maintain forward progress during walking.

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