2/3 evening, Frontline TV program on PD

Just in case you haven’t received the word on this PBS Frontline hour-long program airing tonight (Tuesday 2/3) in the evening (10pm on channel 9, for me)….

The program is called “My Father, My Brother, and Me.” It’s the story of Dave Iverson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His father had PD, and his brother was diagnosed with PD ten years ago. He interviews Dr. Bill Langston, CEO and Founder of the Parkinson’s Institute, Michael J. Fox, and others.

An excerpt will be shown on tonight’s PBS NewsHour (see pbs.org/newshour).

If you’ve read the terrific book “The Case of the Frozen Addicts,” by Dr. Langston, video from 1982 of George and at least one other addict patient is shown in the Frontline series. In the book and in the Frontline program, Dr. Langston discusses the fact that the addicts injected MPTP and got Parkinson’s. He followed the trail and learned that MPTP is very similar to the widely used herbicide paraquat.

You can watch the full program online here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline … sons/view/
(I’m not sure for how long this program will be available online.)

There are five two- or three-minute excerpts of the hour-long program here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline … eview.html

Part of the Michael J. Fox interview is here:

I’ve copied below the text posted on the Frontline website about the program*.

Dave Iverson and Frontline have done a great job generating awareness for the Frontline program on PD. Check out:

#1 KQED Radio’s Forum program yesterday (2/2) on Parkinson’s Disease
“On Tuesday, KQED-TV will air ‘My Father, My Brother, and Me’ a Frontline documentary on Parkinson’s disease co-produced by Forum’s Friday host Dave Iverson. In this hour, we find out about the latest research on Parkinson’s, and talk to Iverson about his personal journey with the disease.” Hosted by Michael Krasny. Guests include: Dave Iverson, Forum’s Friday host and a veteran television and documentary producer; Dr. Bill Langston, founder, CEO, chief scientific officer and board member of The Parkinson’s Institute; Dr. Clive Svendsen, professor at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). This program runs 52 minutes. KQED is based in San Francisco.

Local support group member Barrie listened to the Forum program yesterday and found it very worthwhile. She said: “While the majority of the conversation was about PD, there was occasional mention of atypical parkinsonism too.” The host Michael Krasny’s father-in-law had PSP.

#2 NPR’s Fresh Air (radio) program yesterday (2/2) on Parkinson’s Disease: A Family History
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor … =100072610 (click on “Listen Now”)
Dave Iverson “examines the potential offered by stem cell research and also reports on possible genetic and environmental triggers of disorder.” This program runs 28 minutes.


* Text about the Frontline program from its website:

In My Father, My Brother, and Me, Iverson sets off on a personal journey to understand the disease that has taken such a toll on his family. Along the way, he meets some remarkable people — a leading Parkinson’s researcher whose encounter with “frozen” heroin addicts led to a major breakthrough; a Parkinson’s sufferer given a new lease on life by an experimental brain surgery; and a geneticist who helped identify some of the gene mutations responsible for Parkinson’s and who is now working on drugs to fix them.

Iverson also has intimate conversations with fellow Parkinson’s sufferers actor Michael J. Fox and writer Michael Kinsley, who describe how they became caught up in the politics of Parkinson’s research after the Bush administration greatly restricted federal funding for promising stem cell research in 2001, three years before Iverson got his diagnosis.

“When you’re talking about the potential to heal and cure, and it’s not going forward because of its value as a political wedge issue,” Fox says of his reaction to the Bush stem cell restrictions, “it pissed me off, and I wanted to do something.” In speaking about the funding restrictions that President-elect Obama has signaled he might soon reverse, Michael Kinsley tells Iverson, “Six years have gone by [since the stem cell restrictions were imposed], and those are pretty important years for people like me.” At the same time, Iverson talks to others like the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who suffers from a spinal cord injury. While Krauthammer is generally supportive of stem cell research, from which he might directly benefit, he believes President Bush drew an important moral line in the sand. “The fact that [an embryonic stem cell] has the potential to become human, and if unmolested and implanted it will become human, deserves a certain kind of respect,” he says.

Until recently, genetics was thought to play no real role in Parkinson’s disease at all, but Iverson’s family history leads him to enroll in a genetic study at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. To date, researchers have identified at least six genes where mutations can cause Parkinson’s, and while the familial form of the disease remains unusual, it may provide researchers with a ready-made target to fix the genes. “We’re a lot closer than we were 10 years ago,” says Mayo Clinic geneticist Matthew Farrer, “a lot closer.”

Finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease may still be on the distant horizon, but in the interim, millions of Americans find ways to live with the condition. Iverson examines one of the experimental surgical interventions that attempts to compensate for the lack of dopamine that characterizes Parkinson’s: a fetal brain cell transplant. “Now we talk about the concept of brain repair,” says surgeon Dr. Ivar Mendez. “Brain repair, when I was in medical school, was not even something that was thought about. So we have advanced tremendously over these years to be able to understand there’s the possibility that we can potentially repair the brain.” While some forms of fetal cell transplant surgery appear to have yielded positive results, others have proved disappointing, in some cases even making patients worse. Dr. Bill Langston of The Parkinson’s Institute tells Iverson: “There’s an old saying in science that research is the process of going up alleys to see if they’re blind. And more often than not they are. But that’s what we do.”

Toward the end of the film, Iverson finds a new source of hope in a very unlikely place: new research that indicates that regular exercise may help delay or slow down the progression of Parkinson’s. Says one leading researcher: “It’s not at all hard for me to imagine that the results of a properly designed exercise program are going to be more effective than many of the medications and surgeries we have now.”