Parkinson’s disease is a daily struggle for 100,000 Canadians, causing tremor, slowness, stiffness and changes in gait. One of a group of diseases known as movement disorders, Parkinson’s results from a loss of cells in the brain from a region called the substantia nigra that produces key neurotransmitters such as dopamine — which is responsible for carrying signals through the body that allow for the coordination of movement.
Many patients also have non-motor symptoms affecting various aspects of their lives, including: mood disorders; sleep changes; lightheadedness and dizziness; and even changes to bladder function. For some, there can be a cognitive decline that leads to dementia. Quality of life as the disease progresses can be severely affected in many ways.
The Movement Disorders Clinic in Calgary is hailed by the U.S. Parkinson’s Foundation as a Centre of Excellence. It works closely with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s Movement Disorders Team at the University of Calgary to run clinical trials to deliver the best in available and centralized care to patients in Southern Alberta.
The Movement Disorders Team is one of the Brain and Mental Health (BMH) teams at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. BMH teams are small networks of researchers focused on specific brain and mental health research areas within the NeuroDiscovery Research Framework.
The group includes more than 20 principal investigators with a particular strength in understanding the mechanisms of PD and its evolution with respect to motor and non-motor symptoms, as well as the development of non-pharmacological interventions. It has the potential to lead globally in the development of experimental therapeutics. By combining their collective strengths with community investment, Calgary’s Movement Disorders Team has the potential to become a world leader in providing one of the most comprehensive Parkinson’s disease research and therapeutics programs available – the Calgary Parkinson Research Initiative (CaPRI).
One of CaPRI’s important efforts is the creation a registry and database. The registry will allow any patient in southern Alberta diagnosed with Parkinson’s or a related disorder, to become a research participant. This registry will be linked to an anonymized database and biobank containing detailed clinical information, blood analysis and imaging data amongst others.
This database will be made available to any researcher in the field within southern Alberta, upon request. CaPRI will also allow funding of novel high-risk, high-reward research, many of which will benefit from the database thus leveraging funds from granting agencies.
CaPRI will provide opportunities for great minds to come together, share data, and learn from one another in order to further our understanding about Parkinson’s disease and related movement disorders.