Advances in Parkinson’s Disease research in 2019 at a glance

11 December 2019

The year 2019 was particularly fruitful for researchers studying Parkinson’s Disease. Whether it was basic research (to acquire new knowledge on the causes and mechanisms of the disease), or clinical research (directly with patients), this year brought many avenues of hope for the entire Parkinson’s community.

Why is research on Parkinson’s advancing more slowly than we’d like?


Before reviewing the major research advances, it is important to understand why Parkinson’s research progresses so slowly. Here are a few explanations:

Each patient living with Parkinson’s Disease is different. It is therefore difficult to develop a drug that meets everyone’s needs.

Lots of promising clinical research is underway. However, every year, numerous trials find treatments ineffective for several reasons:

    • Parkinson’s Disease is not diagnosed based on a biomarker test (e.g., blood test, imaging). It is a difficult clinical diagnosis. Up to 20% of people enrolled in trials do not have classic Parkinson’s. So these new treatments are not intended for them and the average response in the entire population participating in the study is negative.
    • Parkinson’s Disease could be considered several diseases combined that present different symptoms and causes depending on the individual. Thus, these new drugs may provoke good responses in certain patients while they are ineffective in others. Again, the average response in the population can be negative.
    • Personalized medicine to provide individualized treatments to patients according to their needs seems particularly indicated for the treatment of Parkinson’s. However, perfecting these treatments for small groups of patients is a lengthy process because it is difficult to recruit them for clinical trials (there aren’t many). Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry often is less incentivized to develop this type of treatment since it views them as unprofitable because they are intended for very small populations.
    • Lastly, Parkinson’s Disease develops slowly, in most cases….

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closing during the holidays

2 December 2019

We would like to inform you that our offices will be closed from December 23 to January 3 for the holiday season.

The entire Parkinson Québec team will be back on January 6, 2020.

We invite you to contact the following specialized resources if you wish to speak directly to someone:

  • Écoute entraide
    The line is aimed at people with all kinds of problems, including:
    – Calls related to mental health
    – Depression
    – Anxiety
    – Solitude and isolation
    – Separation
    – Family problems, etc.

Montreal: 514 278-2130 / Toll-free: 1 844 294-2130
The crisis line is available 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to midnight.

  • Info-Santé: 811


  • Centre de prévention du suicide de Québec
    Toll-free: 1-866-277-3553
    24 hours a day
    7 days a week

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A nutritional supplement to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease?

30 October 2019

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a naturally occurring molecule that replenishes one of the body’s antioxidants, glutathione, and now shows potential benefit as part of a standard course of treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Larger studies are warranted to validate these preliminary but exiting findings.

The destruction of dopamine nerve cells in Parkinson’s disease appears to result in large part due to oxidative stress which lowers levels of glutathione, a chemical produced by all the cells of the body to counteract oxidative stress.

Interestingly, glutathione levels in the substantia nigra of people who passed away with Parkinson’s are close to null. In the 80’s, this finding led researchers to administer intravenous (IV) glutathione as an adjuvant to standard therapy. This first small trial showed promising results mostly on resting tremor intensity. But intravenous delivery is not an ideal treatment approach for any medication, particularly for a community that has movement issues. Then, further clinical trials investigated the effect of inhaled glutathione. Unfortunately, these trials did not show any difference between the group of patients treated with glutathione and the ones treated with placebo, suggesting a placebo effect. However, these studies were too small to detect a true effect between the treatment and the control groups.

One other potential explanation of the failure of these trials is that administered glutathione is not absorbed very well by cells. Glutathione is made inside cells, not taken up by them.

This leads back to NAC. NAC is readily taken up by neurons and it can help to boost intra neuronal glutathione levels. NAC has also been shown to be neuroprotective in animal models of Parkinson.

NAC is an oral supplement, and also comes in an intravenous form that is used to protect the liver in Tylenol overdose. Several initial studies have shown that NAC administration increases glutathione levels in the…

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24h Tango 2019

On December 6 and 7, the 24h of Tango for Parkinson Québec comes back in force for its 4th edition. On the program, live music with Cambalache Tango, demonstrations by students and teachers, trial classes, themes, snacks, a luxury musical selection by their guest DJs and more.

Join this festive and unifying dance event during which Tango Libre hopes to raise $10,000.

The event is aimed at tango dancers, but will also offer activities for the general public.

For information and registration, please contact Tango Libre at 514-527-5197 or by email at

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The National Caregiver Week

24 October 2019

From November 3 to 9, 2019, L’Appui will highlight the National Caregiver Week under the theme of solidarity. A series of activities will be held throughout Quebec.

Because we will all be caregivers.

In Quebec, 25,000 people have Parkinson’s disease, which means that many family members are also affected. With the increase in diagnoses expected over the next 20 years, we know that even more people will be called upon to provide care and support as a caregiver. It is therefore necessary to dwell on it, to reflect on it and to prepare for it.

Caregivers are the backbone of the health care system, accounting for more than 80% of home support. This is a vital contribution for people who are ill or losing their autonomy and want to live at home. Committed and generous, family caregivers continue to support the person being cared for beyond the transition from home to a residential centre.

Want to follow the National Caregiver Week? Please follow us on Facebook! 

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