University of Rochester Conducts Parkinson's Research

- Parkinson's Disease affects millions of people, and now Rochester's taking the lead in a nationwide research project.

The University of Rochester Medical Center has been awarded millions of dollars to coordinate research on a drug to help fight the disease.

For Gary Hilburger, Parkinson's Disease means not taking one day for granted.

"Parkinson's has been a blessing because it has opened my eyes to things that I have never sensed before," Hilburger said.
The Vietnam veteran was first diagnosed 12 years ago.

"There begins to develop tremors on my left side, when I go to bed at night, my left foot starts to curl up a little bit," he said. "There's a lot of fatigue, there are distractions, there is disorganization."

Now a $23 million grant is giving people like Gary hope. The University of Rochester will join Northwestern University to launch a clinical trial for a new drug to treat the disease.

"It's a phase three study which means this is the final stage before we can show the medication actually worked for what we think it is suppose to do,"  said Doctor Kevin Biglan, co-principal investigator of the study.

Patients will be chosen for this clinical trial at 56 different sites in North America, including right here at the University of Rochester.

The medication isn't anything new. Isradipine has been around for years, helping patients with high blood pressure. Biglan says it could still be a breakthrough.

"This would be the first medication, if successful, that shows that we can slow progression of Parkinson's disease," Biglan said.

Patients can start enrolling for the clinical trial in August. Doctors are looking for people who are newly diagnosed and haven't started taking any medications yet.

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