For centuries, scientists have tried to crack the mystery of a devastating ailment once called “the shaking palsy.” But Parkinson’s disease, which causes tremors, muscle stiffness and difficulty walking, remains the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the United States after Alzheimer’s. About 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s, and more than 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.
Drugs available to treat Parkinson’s can control symptoms but not slow progression. By the time its symptoms are evident, the disease already cut a swath of dead neurons through a crucial part of the brain.
University of Georgia Professor Anumantha Kanthasamy has a plan to fight back.
In 2021, Kanthasamy was appointed as UGA’s inaugural John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Parkinson’s Research. He is leading a new UGA initiative in brain science, including a state-of-the-art Center for Neurological Disease Research. He also spearheads an effort to recruit interdisciplinary researchers in neuroscience, epigenetics, bioinformatics and translational medicine. Four new faculty hires will start in Fall 2023.
“We need to detect Parkinson’s disease much sooner, which means we need to identify its diagnostic markers,” said Kanthasamy, who’s appointed in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We also need new therapeutics to stop Parkinson’s from progressing. To do that, we must understand more about the disease’s underlying mechanisms.”