University of Iowa partners with foundation for Parkinson's research

The University of Iowa has been a longtime partner with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research

For years, actor Michael J. Fox has battled Parkinson's disease. He has also made tremendous strides in research through The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease.

In October, Fox discussed his diagnosis on CBS Sunday Morning. In the interview he explained how he never believed would be diagnosed with the disease.

"Somebody's grandmother had it. I mean it was not a thing I noticed or thought about, I was a 29-year-old guy."

Now his foundation is doing a clinical trial of the drug nilotinib.

Nilotinib is a drug traditionally used to treat a form leukemia. However, recently researchers say the drug shows that it can help relieve symptoms of the disease in patients.

In the second phase of the clinical trial, the foundation partnered with the University of Iowa College of Public Health to help collect data.

"This drug can help relieve some of the symptoms especially the cognitive symptoms of these Parkinson's patients," explains University of Iowa College of Public Health Biostatistician Chelsea Caspell-Garcia.

She adds people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease suffer from memory issues and problem-solving skills. This drug helps relieve that problem.

Traci Schwieger, with The Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the UI, will release data on Fox's website for researchers to evaluate.

"The goal is just to have a collaborative effort in research that's available to researchers to expand and further our knowledge."

However, the drug has side effects. Caspell-Garcia says nilotinib could possibly lead to a cardiac episode. Researchers are monitoring participants while they undergo the second phase of the clinical trials.

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