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Although there is still hope for a stem cell breakthrough in the struggle to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, actor Michael J. Fox, who founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation to find that cure, feels that it will more than likely come sooner from another avenue.

That’s why MJFF has broadened its scope of research to include other areas, such as drug therapies and early detection.

“We’re trying to find a bio-marker for Parkinson’s, which is really important,” says Fox. “By the time I exhibited symptoms, somewhere near 80 percent of my dopamine producing cells were already gone. So we need a way to identify the disease before symptoms appear. Then we target drugs along the way, we can perhaps do something to arrest progress and eliminate the possibility of symptoms, which may not be a cure but it’s as good as a cure. To me that’s the most exciting piece of research out there.”

MJFF is co-operating with pharmaceutical companies that are working with promising compounds – sometimes by stepping in with funding to support continued research, sometimes by sharing the research. But another challenge is that people are not getting involved in clinical trials – almost half of all trials don’t recruit a single patient.

“Acceptance is not resignation,” says Fox. One can accept that they have the disease, but then go out and do something about it, such as getting involved in a clinical trial to help push research forward. “It is very empowering.”

The MJFF website created the Fox Trial Finder to make it easier to get involved. People can anonymously fill out a profile and indicate the area where they live so that they can be notified when a trial is taking place in their locale.

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